The chief health officer of the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) has told residents not to talk to one another outside of the home amid a strict lockdown in Sydney.
“Whilst it is human nature to engage in conversation with others, to be friendly, unfortunately, this is not the time to do that,” NSW Chief Health Officer Dr. Kerry Chant told reporters on July 20.
“So even if you run into your next-door neighbour in the shopping centre … don’t start up a conversation. Now is the time for minimising your interactions with others even if you’ve got a mask.”
Meanwhile, the state’s premier said residents should not leave their homes unless they have to and echoed Chant’s advice not to engage in conversations outside of the home.
This comes as NSW recorded another day of high new, locally acquired COVID-19 case numbers, with 110 detected in the 24 hours to 8 p.m. on Tuesday. About 84,000 tests were conducted during that period.
NSW Premier Gladys Berijiklian said that at least 60 of those people were active in the community for part or all of their infectious period.
“That is a high number, but a number which reflects the high amount of testing that we had,” Berejiklian said. “The simple message is this is really serious.”
“We have done well to stem the growth that other countries around the world have seen with the Delta strain … we have done really well in stemming the growth of the virus,” she said. “What we need to do now is quash it.”
NSW Health said 54 cases are linked to a known case or cluster, with 40 being household contacts of cases already identified, 14 are close contacts. A further 56 cases are under investigation.
The Greater Sydney outbreak, which began on June 16, has grown to 1,528 cases and five deaths have been recorded in connection to the outbreak.
The central-western NSW town of Orange and its surrounds have also gone into a seven-day lockdown after a COVID-19 positive delivery driver from Sydney visited the area and infected another person.
That lockdown encompasses the local government areas of Orange, Blayney, and Cabonne and is the first time a stay-at-home order has been imposed in regional NSW.
Orange Mayor Reg Kidd said the decision to impose the lockdown was made after NSW Health contacted the three town mayors.
“It was not an easy decision … but you have to think of the bigger picture … this is the best way that we have got to try and nip things in the bud,” he said.
Under the public health order, residents in Orange, Blayney and Cabonne can only leave home to shop for essential items, seek medical care, or on compassionate grounds, exercise in groups of no more than two, and to attend work or tertiary studies that can’t be done from home.
A full list of NSW exposure sites can be found at health.nsw.gov.au