Australia

NSW records 681 new local COVID-19 cases and one death as regional lockdown extended

New South Wales has posted another record 681 locally acquired coronavirus cases and one further death. 

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.

“He had received one dose of vaccine,” NSW Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Marianne Gale said.

“He was also being treated for another serious medical condition.” 

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian 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.

Push for vaccinations

The premier said the state also recorded a record 110,000 vaccinations on Wednesday. 

NSW has now adminstered 5.5 million vaccine doses, with 53 per cent of the eligible population now having one dose and 28 per cent fully vaccinated.

“These are difficult times for all of us, the next few weeks will be hard, but no doubt that once we get those high vaccination rates, life will feel much better, it will look much rosier,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“Every state in Australia will need to come to terms with the fact that when you get to a certain level of vaccination and open up, Delta will creep in. We can’t pretend that we will have a zero cases around Australia with Delta.”

The premier had previously set a target for six million doses administered around the state by the end of August – a target the state looks all but certain to beat.

Asked what restrictions might be eased upon reaching that target, Ms Berejiklian was not able to provide any specific details. 

“As soon as we can, we will talk to the community about that,” she said.

“But what we want to be very clear about is that September and October will be difficult to NSW … but better than what we are experiencing today, because more people will be 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.”

NSW Police Officers patrol the main shopping district of Bankstown, Sydney.

AAP

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.” 

SBS is providing live translations of daily New South Wales and Victoria COVID-19 press conferences in various languages. Click here for more information.

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