Australia

NSW braces for at least 100 local COVID-19 cases after grim warning from premier

NSW is bracing for at least 100 new locally acquired coronavirus cases after Premier Gladys Berejiklian issued the grim prediction as the state recorded its first COVID-19 death of 2021.

A 90-year-old southwest Sydney woman died on Saturday, hours after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

She was a close contact of a locally acquired case and was believed to be unvaccinated.

Her death is the first since the Bondi cluster emerged on June 16, and the first connected to COVID-19 in NSW since a man died in December.

NSW on Sunday recorded its highest daily total of infections in the current outbreak, with 77 new local COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday.

Of the 77 new cases, only 32 were in isolation for all of their infectious period.

The premier expects this toll will be beaten on Monday when health authorities report infection numbers for the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday.

“I’ll be shocked if it’s less than 100,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters on Sunday.

It was “highly unlikely” lockdown provisions in Greater Sydney and surrounds will be lifted as scheduled on Friday, which will mark the end of a third week of stay at home orders.

There are 15 COVID-19 patients in NSW in intensive care, with five on ventilators.

Federal Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said one of the six SummitCare Baulkham Hills aged care residents who caught COVID-19 from an infected staff member was “seriously unwell” in hospital.

That person was the only infected resident who was unvaccinated.

Meanwhile, a “graphic” COVID-19 advertisement began airing on Sydney television screens on Sunday night to highlight the seriousness of the disease.

In the Commonwealth-funded TV ad, a young woman in a hospital bed gasps for air with the message: “COVID-19 can affect anyone. Stay home. Get tested. Book your vaccination.”

“It is quite graphic and it is meant to be graphic – it is meant to really push that message home,” Professor Kelly said in Canberra.

NSW Police on Saturday issued 106 infringement notices due to public health order non-compliance, including to people who gathered in groups in Marrickville, Sydney Olympic Park and Merrylands.

NSW Health late on Sunday advised of multiple new exposure sites in Fairfield and Fairfield Heights, including a number of medical centres and pharmacies. A Kogarah fish shop is also in the spotlight. People who have visited any of the sites are being told to get tested and self-isolate.

Meanwhile, the NSW Education department is shipping 7,000 laptops and 5,000 dongles to more than a thousand schools across the state for students about to start term 3 by online learning due to the lockdown.

“We are working with vendors to secure even more equipment, should it be required,” Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said on Monday.

Last year, the department shipped more than 13,000 devices and 8,000 dongles to support students learning from home.

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