New South Wales has reported 65 new local coronavirus cases with 28 people out and about in the community while infectious.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it was a “welcome drop” from yesterday’s numbers and said that while the numbers are still bouncing around, “we are seeing a stabilisation”.
“They’re not growing exponentially. That tells us that the settings that we have in place are having an impact. My strongest message to everybody is keep doing what you are doing. Keep sticking to the rules,” she told reporters on Thursday.
But the premier said she expected higher case numbers on Friday given the number of people still infectious in the community.
There are 73 people with COVID-19 currently in hospital, of which 19 are in intensive care and five are ventilated.
Of those in ICU, one is in their 20s, one is in their 30s, two are in their 40s, five are in their 50s, six are in their 60s, three are in their 70s and one is in their 80s.
The state previously reported 97 local coronavirus cases on Wednesday, 31 of which were circulating in the community while infectious.
Ms Berejiklian has said this number needs to be close to zero before the lockdown can end.
She implored those with symptoms to isolate and get tested and not go to medical centres or pharmacists, which was causing the virus to transmit.
Five million NSW residents are facing at least another fortnight of lockdown after sustained high daily coronavirus numbers forced the government to extend stay-at-home measures on Wednesday until Friday 30 July.
But despite the lockdown, many retail outlets have remained open, with the state government under increasing pressure to mandate the closure of non-essential stores.
On Thursday the premier responded by saying “the vast majority of retail shops are not open” and she urged Sydney residents to take responsibility for their own movements and only leave home for essential reasons.
Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant on Thursday said case numbers continued to rise in the areas of Fairfield, Liverpool and Canterbury Bankstown in the city’s southwest, with cases also emerging in other parts of the city including Emu Plains in Sydney’s west.
A full list of exposure sites can be found.
Two of Sydney’s major hospitals are also on high alert after a nurse and a patient were diagnosed with COVID-19.
A pregnant patient at Liverpool Hospital, in Sydney’s southwest, was diagnosed on Wednesday after undergoing a procedure.
The hospital cancelled elective surgery to deep clean the operating theatre and contact tracing is underway with close contacts – including staff – being tested and isolating for 14 days, NSW Health says.
A nurse who worked at Westmead Hospital in the COVID-19 ward has also tested positive to the virus but there were no cases linked to the health worker so far. The staff member was said to be fully vaccinated and wearing full protective equipment.
At least one paramedic in southwest Sydney has also tested positive to the virus. A spokesperson for NSW Ambulance said it is investigating reports of further positive cases in paramedics “who had no contact with the confirmed case”.
“Urgent contact tracing is underway,” the spokesman said.
On Thursday evening, an aged care home in Rooty Hill also confirmed a contract cleaner at the facility had been diagnosed with the virus, prompting the centre to lock down as a precaution.
“We have isolated all residents and staff throughout the facility and our outbreak management plan has been implemented,” a spokesman for Minchinbury Manor said in a statement.
“Daily testing will be undertaken of both residents and staff, while the cleaner and five close contacts of her in the facility have been immediately isolated.”
About 90 per cent of staff and residents have been vaccinated, and those who remain unvaccinated are expected to be offered a jab in the coming days, he said.
NSW Health on Thursday afternoon also confirmed another suspected case, at the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse for cancer treatment in Sydney, was a false positive.
Meanwhile, three regional towns have been added to the state’s list of exposure sites overnight. NSW Health has identified venues of concern in South Gundagai, Jindera and Hay after they were visited by a positive case.
It comes after a case was identified in Goulburn earlier this week when an infected painter travelled from Fairfield in Sydney’s southwest to work on a building site.
for workers and businesses.
The package includes more than $17.5 million for key organisations that support the mental health of Australians, including Lifeline, the Kids Helpline, Headspace and beyondblue.
Additional reporting by AAP.