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NSW government considers tougher lockdown settings in Sydney as COVID-19 outbreak passes 1000 cases

The NSW government is considering the further tightening of COVID-19 lockdown settings in Greater Sydney, with the number of new local cases out in the community while infectious remaining stubbornly high.

New rules enforcing COVID-19 testing every three days for Fairfield-based essential workers, meanwhile, have come into effect.

NSW recorded 97 new local virus cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday, with at least 46 out in the community for part or all of their infectious period.

The outbreak has passed 1000 cases since it began on 16 June.

With the number of cases in the community while infectious failing to slide despite three weeks of lockdown, the NSW government crisis cabinet met on Friday afternoon to consider harsher COVID-19 lockdown settings.

The outcome of that meeting will be revealed on Saturday.

The Australian Medical Association on Friday called for a harder NSW lockdown, including the closure of all non-essential retail and business activity. It also wanted stronger limits on travel distances from home.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she wouldn’t “hesitate to go harder” on restrictions, but only if they had a tangible public health benefit.

She also warned case numbers would likely surge again at the weekend.

A sign warning people to socially distance is seen on the foreshore in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge on Friday, 16 July, 2021.

A sign warning people to socially distance is seen on the foreshore in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge on Friday, 16 July, 2021.

AAP

“We need to make sure that any decisions we take will have the desired effect of reducing those numbers,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters.

Three-quarters of the new recorded cases were recorded in the Fairfield local government area, which has become the epicentre of the outbreak.

From Saturday, essential workers who live in the Fairfield area but work elsewhere will be obliged to take a COVID-19 test every three days. There are currently three 24-hour testing clinics in the council area.

Fairfield-based essential workers who are asymptomatic are permitted to seek COVID-19 testing closer to their place of work, rather than wait in queues.

NSW police handed out 164 enforcement notices on Thursday and gave more than 200 warnings to people breaching the public health orders. Officers would be out in force over the weekend, NSW Police said.

“We will continue to work with the community to achieve compliance, but we will enforce the health order where community safety is put at risk,” Deputy Commissioner Mal Lanyon said in a statement.

NSW Health has confirmed a healthcare worker at Liverpool and Campbelltown hospitals returned a positive test to COVID-19, after a patient tested positive. Non-urgent surgery has been postponed at both hospitals.

New exposure sites were on Friday evening issued for several venues, most notably the Woolworths Lennox Shopping Centre in Emu Plains, Service NSW at Liverpool, Coles at Hurstville and a Lakemba butcher.

IKEA at Marsden Park was also listed as an exposure site.

The NSW government said on Friday night anyone travelling to the state from Victoria will be required to follow stay-at-home rules.

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