NSW has been warned to brace for its COVID outbreak to get worse today, as the Delta variant spreads despite Greater Sydney’s lockdown.
- Premier Berejiklian expects the numbers of infected people to increase
- An expert says too many retail outlets are still operating
- Police are checking hotels after a number of illegal gatherings
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said although there had been a drop in movement since extra restrictions were brought in on Friday, cases had been rising.
On Thursday, there were 11 cases who had been infectious in the community; by Friday there were 27 and yesterday there were 37.
Since the outbreak began last month, 489 people have been infected.
“I do expect numbers to be bouncing around and I do expect the situation to get worse before it gets better,” Ms Berejiklian said.
The Premier yesterday said she was comfortable with the timing of NSW’s lockdown.
“What I know is that we have some of the best health experts … [and] best advisers from the private sector and business contributing to the NSW government’s ability to make decisions,” she said.
“I have full confidence in the experts we rely on.”
University of NSW strategic health policy expert Bill Bowtell said the current lockdown was not strict enough to work.
On Friday evening, the stay-at-home orders were tightened. People can now exercise outdoors only in groups of two, or with members of their households.
Browsing in retail businesses has also been banned, and only one person from each household may go shopping once a day for essentials.
From today, the number of mourners at funerals will be capped at 10.
Community leaders are working hard to ensure the message is disseminated in multiple languages throughout south-west Sydney.
But Professor Bowtell said these new restrictions were “not enough to turn the rising numbers around”.
“They are not like the stage-four restrictions in the gold-standard state for these things, which is Victoria.”
Professor Bowtell said case numbers remained high because the initial lockdown was delayed by 10 days and there were two weeks of “lockdown lite”.
“This should never have happened, but here we are.”
He believes the exponential growth in the number of close contacts, of which there are now more than 14,000, comes back to the fact a lot of retail is still operating.
The NSW government has not defined what is an essential business and the Premier has simply asked people to “stay home unless you absolutely have to”.
“But we know both anecdotally from mobility statistics and certainly what police are reporting that most retail outlets are now completely empty,” Professor Bowtell said.
Ms Berejiklian has repeatedly said when the lockdown ended depended on whether the people of NSW adhered to the rules.
“We’re not asking for much, given the situation we are in … people need to look inside themselves, to really dig deep into their own consciences,” she said.
Police have now started conducting compliance checks at Sydney hotels after six people staying at the Meriton Suites in the CBD were found to have breached the state’s COVID-19 lockdown.
There have also been several other illegal gatherings, including one in Randwick where eight men were found inside a home, five of whom did not live there.
One man was found hiding behind a shower curtain in the bathroom.