NSW chief health officer reveals the big mistake Sydney is making Covid-19 testing

The big mistake Sydneysiders are making with Covid testing – as top doctor Kerry Chant says it’s helping drive up ever-growing case numbers

  • Chief health officer Kerry Chant says people are waiting too long to get tested
  • A pandemic-record of 110,962 tests were conducted on Wednesday
  • NSW had 239 fresh cases on Thursday, with 70 infectious in the community

Sydney’s Covid-19 cases are remaining high because people are failing to get tested as soon as they show symptoms, NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant says.

Of the 239 new Covid cases recorded in NSW on Thursday morning, 70 people were active in the community throughout their infectious period – a figure Dr Chant says could be avoided.

She said Covid-positive people are waiting too long to get tested, and have likely already spread the virus before they’re told to isolate.

Pictured: People lining up at a Covid clinic in Sydney on Thursday. NSW recorded 239 new cases

‘The issues that we want to reinforce with the community is coming forward for testing quickly,’ Dr Chant said during the daily press conference.

‘We are still finding that people are delaying getting a test and that means that by the time we find them, everyone in the household is positive and then also it means unknowingly, everyone is actually out in the community infectious.’

A record of 110,962 tests were conducted in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday, but Premier Gladys Berejiklian believes the situation is set to worsen.

While speaking with Kyle and Jackie ‘O’ on KIIS FM on Thursday morning, she echoed Dr Chant’s sentiments and said too many people were out in the community while infectious.

‘So many people have been infectious in the community day on day on day,’ Ms Berejiklian said.

‘It just keeps the ripple effect going.’ 

Chief health officer Kerry Chant says people in Sydney aren't getting tested as soon as they show symptoms

Chief health officer Kerry Chant says people in Sydney aren’t getting tested as soon as they show symptoms

Health officials said 104 of the new cases on Thursday – almost half – were found in southwest Sydney, while 58 were detected in the city’s west.

Another 51 though – up from 20 on Wednesday – were found in the central Sydney local health district in a worrying sign the outbreak has broken containment lines in the western suburbs and is moving back east.

There are now 182 patients suffering from the virus in hospitals across the state – 54  in intensive care with 22 on a ventilator. 

Dr Chant said 17 of the patients in intensive care were under the age of 40 – including two in their teens and eight in their 20s.

Just a day after extending the city’s stay-at-home lockdown for another four weeks, Ms Berejiklian also announced two million Sydney residents living in the eight hotspot LGAs in the west and south-western suburbs would have to wear a mask whenever they leave home.

Those areas are Canterbury-Bankstown, Fairfield, Liverpool, Blacktown, Cumberland, Parramatta, Campbelltown and Georges River.

Pictured: Health workers at a testing centre in Sydney on Wednesday

Pictured: Health workers at a testing centre in Sydney on Wednesday

‘If you step foot outside your household, you need to wear a mask at all times. It doesn’t matter where it is,’ she said.

‘We’re seeing too much evidence of people who are not wearing masks when they need to.’

Penalties for not wearing a face mask will increase from $200 to $500, with thousands of police officers deployed across Greater Sydney to enforce the tightened restrictions.

From midnight on Saturday morning, residents in the eight LGAs also cannot travel more than 5km from their home for essential shopping or for exercise.

‘These harsh measures are the harshest Australia has ever faced in a lockdown,’ Ms Berejiklian said. 

‘The Delta strain is different to anything we have seen.’

‘I appreciate whilst all of us are under stress and pressure with the lockdown, if you live in those eight local government areas, we are asking so much of you.’ 


From 11.59pm on Wednesday July 28:

Greater Sydney residents including the Central Coast, the Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour must limit essential shopping trips to within 10km of their homes.

Non-essential workers living in the Parramatta, Campbelltown and Georges River LGAs cannot leave their area for work.

The same rules already applied for residents in Fairfield, Cumberland, Canterbury-Bankstown, Liverpool and Blacktown.

Essential workers leaving Canterbury-Bankstown will need to be tested every three days.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has extended Sydney's stay-at-home lockdown for another four weeks

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has extended Sydney’s stay-at-home lockdown for another four weeks

In Fairfield and Cumberland, only aged care and healthcare workers must be tested every three days. 

From 12.01am on Saturday, July 31:

Construction sites can reopen outside the eight LGAs under tighter restrictions.

A singles bubble will be opened – allowing couples to visit each other’s homes.

Tradesmen can resume work as long as they do not come into contact with residents. That work will also be banned in the eight LGAs of concern. 

From August 16:

Year 12s will return to face-to-face learning and a Pfizer vaccination program will begin in the eight LGAs where transmission of Covid-19 is at its highest.

Rapid antigen testing will also be used for students returning to school across Greater Sydney.

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