New South Wales has recorded a further 10 new cases of coronavirus overnight, including a young child.
The child was a close contact of a previously known case and among three newly identified cases linked to the Crossroads Hotel cluster, which started on July 3rd in Casula, southwest Sydney.
In total, at least 37 cases have been linked to the venue.
A further four new cases have been connected to returned travellers currently in mandatory hotel quarantine, while three other cases in Sydney’s southwest are under investigation.
Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said despite the new cases, Australians should be proud of their efforts in the fight against COVID-19.
Pictured: Some of the areas and venues within Sydney that have been identified as potential coronavirus hotspots. Anyone who has visited these places are urged to get tested
‘In reality, Australia has not had many people proportionate to its population infected with COVID because we’ve been successful in controlling it,’ she said.
‘At this critical time I just urge all people… please just reflect, maintain that social distancing, don’t go out with your group of friends if you have the mildest symptoms,’ Dr Chant said.
In spite of the growing caseload in New South Wales, Premier Gladys Berejiklian is adamant she won’t send the state back into lockdown.
The premier told KIIS.FM’s Kyle and Jackie O she would avoid a lockdown ‘at all costs’, even if daily infection rates soared beyond 200 as they had in Victoria.
The approach is in direct contrast with Victoria, which opted to lockdown metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire in an attempt to stem the spread of the deadly respiratory infection.
‘We can’t keep going into lockdown and that is something we need to avoid at all costs,’ she said on air.
A medical worker takes a swab from a woman at a COVID-19 testing clinic in Picton, southwest Sydney
Victoria has suffered a triple-digit increase in cases for the past ten days, including 238 new cases on Wednesday.
There are legitimate concerns that outbreak has spread to New South Wales, particularly after a Victorian was identified as ‘patient zero’ of the Crossroads Hotel cluster which is linked to almost all of the state’s new infections.
Asked if Sydney would be locked down if it saw the same infection numbers, Ms Berejiklian said: ‘We would avoid that happening.’
With around one million Australians reliant on financial support already, the premier is desperate to avoid the economic damage that further lockdowns would bring.
She also ruled out suburb-by-suburb lockdown as tried in 10 postcodes in north-west Melbourne.
Ms Berejiklian said locking down a suburb where an outbreak happens is ineffective because people who may have been infected there travel ‘all over Sydney’.
A sign for a pop-up COVID-19 testing clinic is displayed along a main road near the hotel
Medical staff at a pop-up COVID-19 testing clinic, perform tests on drivers
‘It’s all or nothing. You can’t lockdown a suburb, because [people who have passed through] live elsewhere,’ she said.
Despite numbers rising in New South Wales and the scope of infections spreading throughout Sydney, federal Health Minister Greg Hunt on Wednesday said the state had still handled the crisis better than in Victoria.
‘All community cases in NSW are associated with the Crossroads Hotel,’ Mr Hunt said while praising Ms Berejiklian’s efforts.
‘NSW is holding the line, they’re doing incredible work. But we need everyone who was at that Crossroads Hotel to isolate and present themselves for testing.
‘NSW is stable and, whilst the numbers remain a concern… the speed and progress of the tracing program and the fact that the community cases have been contained is heartening.’
But the numbers in Victoria were ‘deeply concerning’, Mr Hunt said.
‘These numbers, as the Victorian Chief Health Officer has said, are stable but they are deeply concerning.
‘It is too early to say if it will remain stable,’ he said.
In spite of the growing caseload in New South Wales, Premier Gladys Berejiklian is adamant she won’t send the state back into lockdown
A female medical staffer wearing biohazard gear tests people for coronavirus at a clinic set up near the Crossroads Hotel
‘As Victorians, as Melburnians, we are in the great fight of our lives.’
While the Crossroads Hotel cluster appears the major concern for Sydneysiders at the moment, Ms Berejiklian admitted she was fearful community transmission was happening before the border shut down without being picked up on.
‘Our case numbers are relatively low but what we don’t know is if there was community spread months ago when people from Sydney and Melbourne were moving in and out.
‘Things can get out of control very quickly,’ she warned.
The premier said Victorian officials failed to realise community transmission was happening until it was too late.
‘They didn’t pick it up early enough. People who should have stayed at home didn’t know they had to stay at home or didn’t stay at home and then that spreads through the community.
The Crossroads Hotel, Casula, on Monday – the epicentre of the latest coronavirus cluster
‘We’re hoping that hasn’t happened here in New South Wales.’
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard told residents not to expect the state to frequently have zero COVID-19 cases as the virus can bubble away under the surface for some time.
‘This virus will continue to transmit lowly through the community and from time to time we can fully expect (this),’ he told reporters on Wednesday.
NSW Health has also named several venues where confirmed COVID-19 cases spent time including the YMCA at Revesby, Wests Leagues Club at Leumeah, Macarthur Tavern in Campbelltown and Casula Kmart.
The Milky Lane burger joint in Parramatta and the Bavarian Macarthur restaurant in Campbelltown were later added to the list as well as Woolworths in Bowral.
More to come.