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Sydney’s CBD a ghost town as NSW braces for increasing coronavirus cases

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has warned Sydneysiders that the current COVID-19 outbreak will get worse before it gets better after the state recorded 30 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, all linked to the Bondi cluster.

Sydney’s CBD was a virtual ghost town on Monday morning with all but essential workers ordered to work from home again.

Sunday’s caseload came from 52,048 tests conducted in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday, and was up from 12 new locally-acquired infections on Saturday. 

The premier said on Sunday she expected numbers to increase over coming days due to the contagious nature of the Delta strain.

“Given how contagious this strain of the virus is, we do anticipate that in the next few days, case numbers are likely to increase even beyond what we have seen today because we are seeing that people in isolation, unfortunately, would have already transmitted to all their house contacts,” she told reporters.

But she said she was confident the 14-day lockdown across Greater Sydney, implemented at 6pm on Saturday night, would do its job in reducing case numbers.

“I’m convinced if we pull together, we will start seeing the results we want to achieve over the next two weeks,” Ms Berejiklian said.

The premier said the fact that all of the positive cases recorded on Saturday were linked to known contacts was a positive sign, but added that a number of cases had been in the community while potentially infectious, which was a concern.

She said the “measure of our success” won’t be limited to the positive number of cases among people already in isolation, but in limiting the amount of people who went out and about in the community while infectious.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant told reporters on Sunday that she hoped to report over coming days that positive cases would have been isolated for their entire infectious period.

Ten of the new cases reported on Sunday were linked to the Great Ocean Foods seafood wholesaler in Marrickville, bringing the number in that cluster to 11.

One of those cases was a Sydney-based Virgin cabin crew member who worked on five flights on Friday and Saturday, taking passengers either to or from Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and the Gold Coast. 

Anyone who flew on the flights mentioned on the NSW Health list of exposure sites or who attended or received a delivery from Great Ocean Foods from Monday 21 June to Friday 25 June is advised to immediately isolate and get tested.

Another positive case who later turned out to be a close contact, attended the vaccine centre at Westmead Hospital on 22 June while infectious.

Dr Chant said she wanted to assure the public that the person did not attend any other part of the hospital and the vaccine centre had since undergone a deep clean.

“I continue to encourage people to come forward with vaccination. It is critical that we continue to get vaccinated,” Dr Chant said.

The CHO also said she wanted to assure NSW residents that a man who had tested positive to COVID-19 at a mine in the Northern Territory was not linked to the NSW cluster and was believed to have been exposed to the virus in Queensland before travelling to the mine.

While there were a close contact of the man in the Hunter New England region, Dr Chant said they had not been in the community while infectious and were currently isolating.

Dr Chant asked anyone who had worked at the mine between 18 and 26 June and who had since returned to NSW to isolate immediately and contact NSW Health.

Some of the cases reported on Sunday were also linked to a birthday party gathering in the West Hoxton last weekend.

There are now 79 people with COVID-19 in NSW, including one in ICU, though they are currently not ventilated, Dr Chant said.

All NSW residents are being urged to monitor the expanding list of exposure sites.

NSW Police had issued 15 penalty infringements overnight to those breaking restrictions, including a family who had travelled from Sydney’s eastern suburbs to a sporting event in the Hunter Valley.

“No matter how much people think that they have to attend some of these events with their children or need to go on holidays, public health orders are clear,” Dr Chant said.

All of Greater Sydney – including the Blue Mountains, the Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour – were placed under stay-at-home orders at 6pm on Saturday, which will remain in place until midnight, 9 July.

Under the orders, everyone in Greater Sydney must stay at home unless it is for an essential reason, including shopping for food or other essential goods and services, medical care or compassionate needs – including a COVID-19 vaccination – exercising outdoors in groups of 10 or fewer, or essential work or education if you cannot study or work at home.  

Anyone who has been in Greater Sydney on or after 21 June should follow the stay-at-home orders for 14 days after they left the region. 

Restrictions have also been introduced for regional NSW to prevent any further seeding events of COVID-19 into the regions. Visitors to households will be limited to five guests – including children – and masks will be compulsory in all indoor non-residential settings, including workplaces, and at organised outdoor events..

Ms Berejiklian on Sunday said the state government was working on a financial support package for businesses affected by the lockdown, to be announced in the coming days. 

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