Need to find out how Covid is spreading in Syndey households, says expert

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NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

An expert says officials need to find out how coronavirus is spreading between households in Sydney in order to slow the outbreak, as the city braces for the latest figures.


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Epidemiologist Catherine Bennett from Deakin University in Melbourne said figuring out what’s causing transmission is the key to winding the spiralling cases back.

The city’s outbreak has ballooned to over 1700 cases with today’s numbers expected at 11am, the day after officials dubbed the situation a “national crisis”.

“They have got to find those links causing the transmission to spread across households and between households,” Dr Bennett told Today.

“So, once they can close those down, you can actually break one transmission link, you can actually see 20 less cases the next week.”

Today, tens of thousands of people have woken up in a stricter lockdown, as a ban on people going to work except if they are essential workers was extended.

The so-called ring of steel around the Fairfield, Canterbury Bankstown, and Liverpool LGAs was expanded to include Cumberland and Blacktown.

Of the 136 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, 53 were infectious in the community.

“There is no doubt that the numbers are not going in the direction we were hoping they would at this stage,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said yesterday.

While the numbers of people infectious in the community are still high, Dr Bennett said without the lockdown the situation would be very different.

“The fact that the numbers have held – now they have gone into the mid-100s, but at the same time, the testing rates are extraordinary and they are now finding more virus that’s out there in the community which is critical.”

She dismissed calls from Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to set up a “ring of steel” around Sydney.

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Plus she said when it is time lockdown will not end suddenly, but restrictions will have to be gradually lifted.

Nurses diagnosed

NSW Health has confirmed 130 staff and patients at the Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital had been forced into isolation after two student nurses tested positive to COVID-19.

The two cases are not linked and contact tracers are frantically trying to determine how many more people the virus could have spread to.

“Twenty-five staff were identified as close contacts of the first student nurse and have been isolating. There were no patients identified as contacts,” the South Western Sydney Local Health District spokesperson told 9News.

“Extensive contact tracing of the second case continues. Five patients and more than 100 staff have been identified as potential contacts and are isolating.”

There has been “no impact on the hospital’s services or the delivery of care”, they said.

Rejection of jabs

After National Cabinet on Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said NSW would not be getting any extra supply of the Pfizer vaccine to curb its outbreak, but second doses may be delayed so more people can get their first jab.

People should now wait six weeks, rather than three.

The lockdown in Sydney was working, Mr Morrison said.

He said the restrictions had prevented coronavirus infections growing exponentially, as it has in other countries.

“In Victoria, when they went through the lockdown, they saw cases rise and rise and rise for many, many weeks while they were in lockdown,” Mr Morrison said.

“I would reassure people that what you are doing now is saving lives, it is working to bring this under control.”

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