Covid 19 coronavirus: NSW records 478 local cases, Victoria records 22

New South Wales has recorded 478 new local cases of Covid-19 and eight deaths, taking the death toll in the latest outbreak to 56.

Of the new cases, 141 are linked to known outbreaks and the source of infection for 337 cases is under investigation. There have been 8,218 cases reported since the outbreak began in mid-June.

Yesterday, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian all but admitted defeat against the Delta strain, claiming it was no longer possible to eliminate Covid-19 and that the goal would be to keep case numbers down.

“It’s not possible to eliminate it completely. We have to learn to live with it,” she said. “But the best chance we have to live with it freely and safely is to get the case numbers down as low as possible.”

NSW suffered a then-record 466 local cases and four deaths on Saturday, prompting a statewide seven-day lockdown and a police operation to enforce compliance across Sydney.

Operation Stay At Home has seen NSW police and Australian Defence Force officers deployed across the state to enforce public health orders after officials blamed rule-breaking for the continued growth of the outbreak.

Drivers have been told to expect more roadblocks as Highway Patrol officers check identification and proof of address.

NSW Police said yesterday 529 infringement notices for breaches of public health orders had been handed out, carrying with them staggering on-the-spot fines.

“These are some of the strongest laws, with some of the strongest police action coming. I am not apologetic,” NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said on Saturday. “Please don’t write in and complain to me. We have given ample warnings and cautions, and that time has gone.”

According to Fuller, movement within the Greater Sydney region still remains too high, and “getting compliance from some members of the community” has been difficult.

Victoria

Victoria today recorded 22 new local cases of Covid-19, with 17 of those cases linked to known outbreaks. Of the new cases, 14 were in isolation throughout their infectious period.

The state’s pandemic response appears to be at a crossroads with Premier Daniel Andrews pleading with residents to follow the lockdown rules.

He said yesterday the current restrictions in Melbourne – which were expected to end on Thursday – could continue for months if rule-breaking caused a further escalation of the outbreak.

“The choice really is between where we are now and hundreds and then thousands of cases,” he said.

Andrews pointed to NSW where new daily cases have begun to surpass 400, prompting NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to assert eliminating Covid-19 in the state was “not possible”.

“I’m determined to make sure that it doesn’t happen here,” Andrews said.

“I know no one’s enjoying this. But what’s worse than this is, well, being locked up until the end of October, or indeed the end of November, because that’s how long it may well take to get 80 per cent of people through the vaccination programme,” he said.

Australia’s four-stage roadmap out of Covid points to a ‘consolidation’ phase once 80 per cent of the eligible population is vaccinated, ending the use of lockdowns to control the virus.

At that stage, according to the national pandemic exit plan that was endorsed by national cabinet, health authorities would manage Covid-19 similar to other infectious diseases like the flu.

There are still concerns over growing clusters growing across Melbourne after eight major outbreak sites emerged in just over a week.

Contact tracers are still attempting to connect five cases recorded on Sunday to existing clusters across Caroline Springs, Melton, Middle Park, Richmond, and Maribyrnong.

Victoria’s Covid-19 commander Jeroen Weimar said the state was at a “tipping point” as authorities seek to contain the outbreak.

“We’ve now got three, four significant clusters that are being generated that we now have to focus on, and that’s the area of concern at the moment, and that is why this is a real tipping point,” Weimar said.

“We can deal with those new clusters. We can deal with [the mystery cases] in St Kilda East, we can deal with Middle Park, we can deal with Glenroy, but if there are more cases coming off the back of them, that’s where you start to get issues.”

Border closures between states look likely to remain in place until next year. West Australian Premier Mark McGowan said on Sunday his state’s hard border with NSW could stay until the end of 2021, while Andrews said he would not open up Victoria to its northern neighbour until the Sydney outbreak was completely under control, regardless of vaccination rates.

Queensland

Queensland has again recorded no new local cases of Covid-19.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk thanked residents for their efforts in crushing the Indooroopilly school cluster that prompted a lockdown last month.

It comes as Queensland tightens border restrictions with NSW.

“The situation in NSW continues to be very concerning,” Young said on Saturday. “Given the escalation of local restrictions, we have no choice but to put in place a tighter border situation to protect Queenslanders.”

NSW border zone residents can now only enter Queensland for obtaining essential goods and services that can’t reasonably be obtained in NSW.

In addition, from Friday, any Queensland worker who enters NSW for an essential service will have to have received at least one jab.

Residents won’t be able to re-enter Queensland by road and will have to quarantine for 14 days in government accommodation after arriving by air.

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