Gladys Berejiklian says New South Wales will experience two difficult months then a “light at the end of the tunnel” after recording another record 681 locally acquired coronavirus cases and one further death on Thursday.
Of the new cases reported to 8pm Wednesday, 170 are linked to a known case or cluster, while the source of infection for 511 is under investigation.
NSW Health says 135 were in isolation for their infectious period and at least 87 were in the community while infectious. The isolation status of the remaining 459 is under investigation.
A man in his 80s from south-east Sydney died at St George Hospital.
“We want to be very clear… that September and October will be difficult for NSW,” the premier said.
But there is a “light at the end of the tunnel” as vaccination numbers continue to rise, she said.
The NSW government is currently looking at ways to give vaccinated people more freedom in September when the state has reached six million jabs.
But Ms Berejiklian refused to elaborate on what exactly that would look like.
“As soon as we can, we will talk to the community about that,” she said.
She confirmed the lockdown across regional NSW would be extended until at least 28 August, in line with Greater Sydney.
“There are vast areas of regional NSW where they are not any cases, but everybody would appreciate and expect us to take a precautionary response, given we have the opportunity to get down to zero cases in the regions,” she said.
There were 25 new local COVID-19 cases reported in western NSW, taking the total for the region to 167.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said extra cases in Wilcannia that would be counted in Friday’s numbers “continue to be worrying”.
The premier said Merrylands, Guildford, Auburn, Granville, Lidcombe and Greenacre were the areas of greatest concern in Sydney.
“These areas have the fastest growth, and it doesn’t mean there are not other areas, but these ones are the main ones,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“We ask people in these communities to stay at home, but also assume that the second you leave your home, you have the virus or anybody you come into contact with has.”
There are now 474 coronavirus patients in the state’s hospitals, with 82 in intensive care and 25 on ventilators.
Of the 82 people in intensive care, 71 are not vaccinated.
The premier said the state also recorded a record 110,000 vaccinations on Wednesday.
NSW has now administered 5.5 million vaccine doses, with 53 per cent of the eligible population now having one dose and 28 per cent fully vaccinated.
Hundreds fined for breaking the rules
In the last 24 hours, NSW Police issued 671 fines across the state, including 393 to people who were caught out of their homes without a reasonable excuse.
“Some of those examples – a group of young men at Smithfield decided to set up a soccer field and go about playing soccer,” Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys said.
“Another example is a man that had travelled from Bondi to southwest Sydney for the fourth time … he was taken to the police station and charged with that offence.
“Here is a person that on four occasions blatantly disregarded the public health order.”
Deputy Commissioner Worboys said Australian Defence Force soldiers had also been deployed to Dubbo to make sure people were complying with stay-at-home orders.
Asked whether the rising case numbers meant tighter restrictions were needed, the premier said tougher rules do not necessarily mean people will follow them.
“I’m quite shocked when I ask every morning – how many people left their house when they shouldn’t have left their house or didn’t have a reason,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“If at any time, the NSW government gets advice on what to do, of course we’ll take that advice.”
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