Prime Minister Scott Morrison has described NSW’s test-and-trace strategy as the “gold standard” in suppressing coronavirus while the state remains open for business.
“That is where we have to get everybody to to ensure that Australia can be open,” Morrison said on Sept. 8.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says contact tracing is only part of the story in dealing with a pandemic and getting the balance right.
“Our public health officials are amongst the best in the world but … unless you have a whole of governance approach to managing the pandemic the contact tracing isn’t as effective and I really want to make that point clear,” she said on Sept. 9.
She repeated calls for Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to reopen her borders, saying there was no reason to keep NSW residents out.
“I think people would understand why Victoria is an exception. But no other state or territory really can suggest that NSW isn’t managing the pandemic. And I just don’t understand why the borders are still there,” Berejiklian said.
“I’m not suggesting we’re out of the woods, but we won’t be until there’s a vaccine. (My) colleagues in other states need to consider where their state will be in six-to-12 months’ time, if they don’t encourage their borders coming down.”
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard went further in his criticism of Palaszczuk.
“I can only express my supreme anger at the Queensland premier’s decision, which in my view … is nothing more than base, loopy politics,” Hazzard said.
“I’m appalled by what’s going on up there.”
They were speaking after NSW reported nine new cases of COVID-19, bringing the cluster linked to Concord and Liverpool hospitals to 12, including eight healthcare workers.
NSW Health said investigations into the source of the infections were ongoing and non-urgent surgery at Concord had been cancelled until Sept. 11.
The hospital will be closed to all visitors until 10 a.m. on Sept. 11 for cleaning.
Seven cases were linked to a known case or cluster, one has no known source and one is a returned overseas traveller in hotel quarantine.
NSW Health said one case attended Tattersalls City Gym and one was a household contact of a previously reported case linked to the CBD cluster.
There are now 68 cases linked to the CBD cluster.
Five of the new locally acquired cases are linked to Concord Hospital. Two are healthcare workers, one is a patient and two are household contacts of the patient.
The two healthcare workers worked at the hospital while potentially infectious but reported having no symptoms while at work and wore personal protective equipment while caring for patients. Contact tracing is underway.
NSW Health said 100 students have been identified as close contacts of the boarding student at Sydney’s Kincoppal Rose Bay School who tested positive to COVID-19.
All close contacts, including teachers and students are in quarantine and the school has been cleaned and the boarding facility remains open to senior year groups.
Because a number of boarding staff had been quarantined some year groups had been sent home.
NSW Health has also issued public health alert after two confirmed cases visited the Eastern Suburbs Legion Club at Waverley several times while infectious.
Anyone who was at the club betwen 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 28 must get tested and isolate until they receive a negative result.
Those who visited the club on Sept. 1, 4, 5 and 6 are advised to get tested immediately if symptoms develop.
NSW Health is treating 88 COVID-19 cases, including six in intensive care, three of whom are being ventilated.
By Maureen Dettre