NSW has reported 415 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and four more people have died as the whole state continues in lockdown. Two overseas cases were also recorded.
At least 66 of those people were circulating in the community for all or part of their infectious period, with 273 under investigation.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned that she doesn’t want to see the state go down the path that many places overseas with much higher vaccination rates have faced, with thousands and thousands of cases a day.
“It is our opportunity to have a forward path for Australia which is different to what’s occurred everywhere else,” the premier said. “That’s why we’re really begging people to take this seriously, to please know to protect yourselves and your loved ones, and to protect our freedom moving forward. If you want freedom moving forward, just do the right thing. Stay at home.
“The future is in our hands. We have the choice to do the right thing. We have the choice to follow the rules and get vaccinated, and a combination of following the rules and getting vaccinated will help us get to where we want to be in the time frame we want that to happen.
“But the risk is that if too many people do the wrong thing, the trajectory NSW and Australia will follow is what’s happened overseas with thousands and thousands of cases every day, and so many deaths. We don’t want to see that happen … That’s why we’re asking everybody to do what’s asked of them. We know it’s hard, but we are literally all in this together.”
All of NSW entered a seven-day lockdown on early Saturday evening, with up to A$5,000 fines announced for breaching health orders and police handed stronger powers to enforce regulations.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr. Kerry Chant said that 62 people are now in ICU.
“I personally do not want to see escalating numbers of deaths and hospitalisation, and it does require every one of us to act and adhere, urgently, and not have any degree of complacency … [to the public health orders],” she said.
She said that both increased vaccination and staying at home to reduce transmission were critical to managing the Delta outbreak.
“There is no silver bullet. Vaccination is not a silver bullet, it’s a tool,” she said. “And vaccination alone will not get us out of this situation.
“We need to follow the public health orders and my message to everyone, is let’s redouble our efforts for the next couple of weeks, get those case numbers down, stay at home.”
She continued, “You need about two to three weeks following vaccination to have any effect. But vaccination is part of the solution to this. It helps us because if a person is vaccinated, there is less chance that they will get the disease, particularly if they’ve had the two doses, and therefore, it means they’re less likely to pass it on to others, and also they’re less likely to need hospital care and admission to intensive care.”
She thanked the majority of the community who are doing the right thing for their compliance with health orders, and all those involved in the work behind the scenes without which “we would see escalating case numbers,” Chant said.
“And you can look overseas, and you could see how Delta can spread. So the fact that we’ve held the numbers at the levels we have, is due to a lot of behind the scenes work. But we need the community to stay with us. And as I say, I cannot describe the my concern level if we do not drive these cases down.”
“Everyone has a part to play, this is not something that government can solve alone,” she added.
New South Wales Deputy Premier John Barilaro encouraged residents of rural NSW to adhere to the lockdown rules for the best chance to quickly get on top of the virus.
“We’ve seen already with what we did in Orange, a sharp, hard lockdown early has meant that we’ve seen freedom come back to regional NSW even sooner.
“The reality is, if we do the right thing this next seven days, this lockdown in the regions will be short, sharp, but will be effective in protecting communities going forward,” he said.
NSW Police indicated it would from Monday be out in full force in affected local government areas to enforce compliance.
Some 800 ADF personnel will also be out on the streets.
The lockdown was announced after rising numbers in regional areas and virus fragments were found in sewage systems in places with no known cases.
Police Minister David Elliott says every officer in NSW is now compelled to ensure lockdown compliance.
“From Tweed Heads to Albury,” he told the Nine Network.
The Australian Medical Association had implored NSW to lock down the whole state, saying the health system could no longer manage the increase in COVID-19 case numbers.
“Our already fragile rural and regional health system will be unable to cope with increases in cases,” AMA NSW President Danielle McMullen said in a statement.
Restrictions also tighten in Greater Sydney from next week, with exercise restricted to five kilometres from home, down from 10 for some parts.
Berejiklian also announced that people in Greater Sydney will need a permit to travel to regional NSW and single people will need to register their “singles buddies.”
In newly-locked down regional areas, people must only leave their residence for an essential reason.
Everyone must carry masks at all times, no visitors are allowed in the home unless for carers’ responsibilities or for compassionate reasons, and those in a relationship.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said he hoped the regional NSW lockdown would not persist for longer than seven days.
Meanwhile, the federal government has announced rapid antigen testing will be progressively rolled out in residential aged care facilities across Greater Sydney.
This would ensure more regular resident and visitor testing.
“Given the rate at which we know the Delta variant can be spread between people, the very fast turnaround of RAT—around 15 minutes—makes these tests useful in preventing asymptomatic transmission and outbreaks as they can be used on a daily basis,” Health Minister Greg Hunt said.
Berejiklian has previously stated a goal of six million vaccinations by month’s end. More than five million jabs have been administered in NSW to date.
Queensland recorded no new local COVID-19 cases on Sunday, while the ACT has recorded another two new cases, taking its total to nine.
The Epoch Times contributed to this report.