Virus now running wild through Sydney

By | December 30, 2020

NSW has recorded another 18 cases of coronavirus, including nine linked to the northern beaches cluster.

Six are from the same family and associated with a case in Croydon, in Sydney’s inner west, which was reported on Tuesday and has no known link to the existing outbreak.

Other mystery cases include a woman in her 50s from Wollongong. Her household contact, a woman in her 20s, has since tested positive.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the Croydon cluster, three adults and three children, is of concern given there are no known links to the northern beaches outbreak.

“We do appreciate there will be additional cases reported tomorrow from that extended family group,” the Premier said.

“As you can see, we have seen the proliferation of cases outside the northern beaches overnight.

“The health experts are working overtime with all extended family members who are involved to make sure … all contact details and venues and movements of that family are made apparent so we can identify all the close contacts.”

Seven cases were diagnosed in hotel quarantine.

Chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said the woman from Wollongong had travelled to Sydney on December 15 and 17 and visited several locations in the CBD.

Anyone who ate indoors at Buckleys on the Opera House promenade from 7:30pm on December 17 are asked to get tested immediately and isolate.

Testing numbers remain low at just 17,000 during the latest reporting period, despite repeated pleas to get the numbers much higher.

“We need to get the testing rates higher so make sure we have confidence that we have eliminated all those additional chains of transmission that may exist out in the community,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters on Wednesday.

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“In particular, the Croydon cluster is of concern because there are no direct links at this stage.”

The growing cluster has prompted the government to introduce new restrictions for New Year’s Eve.

Household gatherings will be restricted to just five visitors for residents in Greater Sydney, Wollongong and the Central Coast while outdoor gatherings have been reduced from 50 to 30 for the Greater Sydney area.

Restrictions for the northern zone of the northern beaches remain the same but for the southern zone household gatherings will be limited to five visitors – including children – from within the same zone.

“These changes come into effect from midnight tonight (Wednesday 30 December) and will be in place until further notice,” NSW Health said in a statement.

“People are encouraged to limit non-essential gatherings over the New Year period where possible to further minimise the risk of transmission in the community.”

Meanwhile, two churches in Wollongong are among the latest venues to be put on alert, as well as the city’s major shopping centre.

Anyone who has attended the following venues at the listed times is urged to immediately get tested and self-isolate until they get further advice from NSW Health.

WOLLONGONG: St Nektarios Greek Orthodox Church, 39 Atchison St, December 27, 9am-10.15am.

WOLLONGONG: The Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church, 18 Stewart St, December 27, 10.30am-11am.

Anyone who visited any of the following venues at the listed times is considered a casual contact who must get tested immediately and isolate until a negative result is received.

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FIGTREE: Figtree Grove Shopping Centre, 19 Princes Hwy, December 21, 12.30pm-1.30pm and December 23, 8.45am-9am, December 24, 6.45am-9.30am.

FIGTREE: Proust Optical, Shop 49, Figtree Grove Shopping Centre, 19 Princes Hwy, December 21, 9.30am-5pm and December 23 9.30am-2pm

WOLLONGONG: Wollongong Central, December 23, 3.30-4pm

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