New South Wales (NSW) has recorded 112 new local COVID-19 cases, with the state’s premier admitting it is “almost impossible” for Greater Sydney and surrounds to exit lockdown anytime soon.
Of the 112 cases in the 24 hours to 8 p.m. on Sunday, at least 46 were out in the community for part or all of their infectious period.
“Family or close friends, unfortunately, bear the brunt of those 112 (cases) we have seen overnight,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Monday.
“If you put yourself at risk, you’re putting your entire family—and that means extended family, as well as your closest friends and associates—at risk.”
NSW has now recorded almost 680 COVID-19 cases in the community since June 16, when the Bondi cluster first emerged.
There are 18 COVID-19 patients in NSW in intensive care, with four ventilated. In total, 63 people are in hospital.
Australia on Sunday reported its first COVID-19 death of 2021 – a 90-year-old southwest Sydney woman believed to be unvaccinated. The woman was a close contact of another locally acquired case.
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.
Ms Berejiklian on Monday also said the government would further ramp up its vaccination drive, with the AstraZeneca jab to be made available to all people aged over 40 at mass vaccination clinics.
All NSW pharmacies will also be able to dole out the AstraZeneca jab to over-40s.
A new mass vaccination hub will also be established at Fairfield in southwest Sydney, where local COVID-19 transmission is a significant concern.
NSW Health late on Sunday advised of multiple new exposure sites in Fairfield and Fairfield Heights, including a number of medical centres and pharmacies.
Ms Berejiklian on Monday said it was “almost impossible” for lockdown orders in Greater Sydney and surrounds to be lifted as scheduled on Friday.
“Where the numbers are, it is not likely – in fact, almost impossible – for us to get out of lockdown on Friday,” the premier said.
“The length of the lockdown will depend on our ability to come together and to follow the health advice.”
A “graphic” COVID-19 advertisement began airing on Sydney television screens on Sunday to highlight the seriousness of the disease.
In the ad, a young woman in a hospital bed gasps for air.
The state and federal governments, meanwhile, continue to nut out additional financial aid for businesses as the Greater Sydney lockdown drags on, although an announcement will not be made on Monday.
The state government has already committed $1.4 billion for businesses.
Police Minister David Elliott said officers would be acting in the coming days with less discretion, fining more people for lockdown breaches.
Some 105 infringement notices were issued by NSW Police on Sunday.
“In the last couple of days, (police) have been working with particularly those communities that don’t listen to mainstream media and maybe haven’t got the message,” Mr Elliott told the Nine Network on Monday.
“The days of excuses will soon end.”
Meanwhile, the NSW Education department is shipping 7000 laptops and 5000 dongles to more than a thousand schools across the state for students about to start term three by online learning due to the lockdown.
Last year, the department shipped more than 13,000 devices and 8000 dongles to support students learning from home.