Half of 24 new Covid cases in NSW infectious while in community as NT flags extending Darwin lockdown
New South Wales recorded 24 new cases of Covid, including an aged care worker believed to be unvaccinated and a second healthcare worker, as the state’s coronavirus outbreak rose to 195.
The premier, Gladys Berejiklian, expressed concern that “around half” of the new cases on Thursday were out in the community while infectious and urged anyone with symptoms to get tested and isolate.
The chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant, confirmed one of the new cases was a second healthcare worker following news on Wednesday that an unvaccinated student nurse who worked at both the Royal North Shore and Fairfield hospitals had tested positive.
Chant said there were concerns around the nurse’s close contacts and that the new case was the student nurse’s close friend who worked at “similar places to her”.
“Extensive contact tracing has occurred around that nurse and we have identified one healthcare worker who was present at the ward on the Sunday when she was close to completing her shift,” the chief health officer said. “That healthcare worker, pleasingly, had not worked whilst infectious.”
Another of the student nurse’s close contacts, a worker at Summit Care – an aged care facility in Baulkham Hills – also tested positive.
“I was very pleased to be advised that around 135 out of the 149 residents at Summit Care were vaccinated and they had concluded their Pfizer vaccination for over a month,” Chant said.
Berejiklian said it was important that for the lockdown to be a success, a higher proportion of new cases needed to be in isolation when they tested positive.
“In too many examples we are seeing workers who are leaving the house with symptoms or going to work with symptoms,” she told reporters on Thursday.
“Then inadvertently as they are going about shopping or other activity, they are passing it on to others.
“All of us to have minimise our interaction with others, as difficult as that is, to make sure that the lockdown is successful.”
The premier on Thursday announced plans to create new mass vaccination hubs in the Hunter, Wollongong and Macquarie Fields in an attempt to boost the state’s weekly capacity. The premier said a new hub would also open in Sydney’s CBD.
Pharmacies will be joining the rollout, with Berejiklian revealing that from mid-July, 22 pharmacies in rural and regional NSW would begin distributing vaccines.
“We know that some of these communities have limited local access to general practitioner services and having these pharmacies involved will assist with the phased rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine to these communities,” Berejiklian said.
“NSW Health and the Pharmacy Guild are having conversations about how to scale that up as soon as possible.”
Seventeen of Thursday’s cases were linked to previously confirmed cases with another seven under investigation. There have now been 195 locally acquired cases in NSW since 16 June.
Northern Territory records one new Covid case
Lockdown restrictions in the Northern Territory could be extended after the chief minister, Michael Gunner, revealed in a press conference late on Thursday that a positive case had visited a corner store when they should have been isolating.
Gunner said the miner had lied to contact tracers and the Darwin store was now listed as another exposure site.
He said the man was being “interrogated” by police to determine the extent of his movements. The man had worn a mask while visiting the store.
“The risk is not high, but the risk is there,” the chief minister said.
“We will keep working through this tonight. Get the contact tracing done. Make sure we keep the virus trapped. Depending on what we can learn tonight, this may have an impact on our decision for the lockdown tomorrow morning. I hope it won’t, but I have got to be straight with you, it might.”
The Northern Territory earlier reported one new locally acquired case – another miner linked to the initial Tanami mine case. Authorities believe the man was in quarantine at Howard Springs throughout his infectious period.
Lockdown continues in Western Australia
Western Australia recorded no new cases, with the premier, Mark McGowan, saying the lockdown for Perth and the Peel region had brought some time for contact tracers to get on top of any locally acquired cases.
“This is amazingly encouraging news,” he said.
“But we cannot afford to get complacent. So I’m appealing to every Western Australian: we need you to get tested.”
McGowan raised concerns at overseas arrivals coming through the state, saying although hotel quarantine was safe, it still posed some risk.
“We’ve done our utmost to make hotels as safe as possible, but there’s still that risk,” he said.
“One of the problems is that so many Australians have gone overseas in the course of the past 18 months unnecessarily. People book a conference somewhere in Europe then have a holiday while they’re over there, then come back and join the queue. It’s just not right.”
Restrictions to remain for South Australia
South Australia said it would retain the restrictions introduced earlier in the week, despite the state recording zero new cases on Thursday.
The premier, Steven Marshall, said the situation around the country was still being evaluated.
“We will see what happens in other jurisdictions and we will look to see what happens with our own results over the next couple of days,” he said.
“We said that we would put those restrictions in place for a week. Since then we’ve had these five new cases, but we are very satisfied with the cooperation that we’ve had from the miner and his family with all of those people that have been asked to go into quarantine.
“Let’s just hope that we continue to have some zero days going forward.”
Authorities were on Thursday working to contact two passengers on the same Virgin flight as the miner who initially tested positive on Tuesday.
More than 300 people are now in quarantine, with fellow miners and passengers all being tested in isolation.
The chief public health officer, Prof Nicola Spurrier, didn’t rule out further restrictions but was confident a wider outbreak had been avoided.
“If we feel that there’s an increasing risk we might put on more restrictions, but we just need to balance that with the impact restrictions have on individual people, on our population, but also the economic impacts and those economic impacts can have really resounding repercussions for a long period of time,” she said.