NSW records nine new local coronavirus cases as testing numbers hit a new high
- NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Wednesday announced a complex plan for Christmas visits across the northern beaches.
- Over Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day people in the north of the northern beaches (north of the Narrabeen Bridge and east of the Baha’i Temple on Mona Vale Road) must remain under lockdown. But they can have up to five people from other households who also reside in the same area visit their homes. People will not be allowed to enter this part of the northern beaches over the Christmas period.
- People in the southern section of the northern beaches, (including Manly and Dee Why) can have up to 10 guests from anywhere, plus as many children under 12 as they like, in their homes.
- Residents in this southern section of the northern beaches cannot leave the area currently under lockdown, but people from Greater Sydney can visit.
- The NSW government will announce the next stage of restrictions on Boxing Day.
New South Wales has recorded nine new locally acquired coronavirus cases on Thursday, after a record number of tests were carried out across the state.
Seven of the nine cases have been linked to the Avalon cluster. Two cases remain under investigation.
The Avalon cluster has now grown to 104 cases, NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Thursday morning that more than 60,000 people had presented for tested on Wednesday.
Ms Berejiklian said she “nearly fell off her chair” when she heard the latest testing numbers – 60,184 in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday.
Positive cases attended Circular Quay venue
One of the cases reported on Thursday attended the Paragon Hotel Sports Bar near Circular Quay in Loftus Street, Sydney, between 12.45pm and 3.30pm on Wednesday, December 16.
A second person identified on Thursday morning, and who will appear in tomorrow’s numbers, also attended the Paragon Hotel Sports Bar at the same time. Two new cases have now been identified at this venue, which now has three cases associated with it.
Patrons who were in the Sports Bar from 12.45pm to 3.30pm on Wednesday, December 16 for more than one hour and are considered a close contact and must get tested immediately and self-isolate for 14 days regardless of their result.
Anyone who was there for less than one hour needs to get tested immediately and self-isolate pending a negative result. People who attended other areas of the Paragon Hotel during this time should monitor for symptoms and isolate and get tested immediately if symptoms appear.
These people should have a very low threshold for testing, Dr Chant said.
Another of Thursday’s new cases under investigation is an office worker in the vicinity of Hunter and Bligh Streets in Sydney’s CBD. Anyone who has been in the north eastern part of the city, including the Australia Square, MLC Centre and Chifley Square, should be alert for symptoms and isolate immediately and get tested should even the mildest of symptoms develop.
Anyone who attended the pool deck area of Bondi Icebergs on Sunday, December 20, between 8am and 9:30am and/or Monday, December 21, between 7am and 8am are asked to get tested immediately and self-isolate. NSW Health will contact these people on Thursday to provide further information and advice.
A full list of locations and public transport routes, and the associated public health advice, is on the NSW Government website.
There are 300 testing locations across the state, and many will be open across the Christmas period. Dr Chant urged anyone with symptoms not to put off getting tested. Elderly people and people with disabilities would be fast-tracked for testing. Dr Chant asked younger people to please be patient if they saw individuals being pulled out of the lines by healthcare workers for these reasons.
Queensland records new case linked to Avalon cluster
On Thursday, Queensland recorded two new cases in the past 24 hours, including one case linked to Sydney's Avalon cluster. The man, who returned from Sydney, initially tested negative on December 18 but remained in home isolation. After feeling unwell, he tested positive and remains in isolation.
The man has been praised by Queensland health authorities as doing "everything right" and said his actions were the "gold standard" expected of any person returning to Queensland after being in the Greater Sydney hotspot.
The second Queensland case was a crew member of a superyacht in Cairns who is now in hospital quarantine.
Sydney's Christmas restrictions
On Wednesday, Ms Berejiklian announced slightly eased restrictions for Sydney over the Christmas break, splitting the northern beaches into two zones at the Narrabeen Bridge for a three-day Christmas period.
From Christmas Eve to Boxing Day, those in the northern part of the region (north of the bridge and east of the Baha'i Temple at Mona Vale Road) will essentially remain in lockdown.
The southern part of the northern beaches will join Sydney in being allowed 10 guests into their homes. In a slight easing of existing restrictions, children under 12 will not count towards the 10 for those three days.
The northern part will be able to have five people visit their home during the Christmas period, but they must all reside within that part of Northern Beaches Local Government Area.
All northern beaches residents will not be allowed to leave the area. The stay-at-home public health order will be amended to allow for home visits within each person's part of the northern beaches over Christmas but otherwise remains in place.
with Mary Ward and Lucy Stone
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