Acting national Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly (pictured) warns Sydneysiders to ‘be careful’
Australia’s top doctor has urged Sydneysiders not to be complacent when it comes to COVID-19, warning the potential for virus transmission is far greater in New South Wales than it is in Victoria.
Acting national Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said the reproductive rate of coronavirus in Victoria is currently at 1.0 due to the tough lockdown restrictions introduced on July 8.
But with many social distancing measures now eased in NSW, the R rate has risen to 1.4.
He claimed this is because some Sydneysiders are ignoring social distancing and continuing to gather in large groups.
The R rate is the average number of people an infected person will pass the virus on to.
Locals are seen social distancing as they walk through Fitzroy Gardens in Melbourne on Saturday (pictured) amid claims many in NSW are gathering in large groups
A NSW health worker (pictured) dressed in PPE performs COVID-19 tests in southwest Sydney on Friday amid fears the outbreak is spreading across the city
Despite the recent reduction in Victoria’s R rate, health workers in the state say they are terrified at the influx of coronavirus patients with hundreds of doctors and nurses already being struck down with the disease.
‘That R effective number is virtually at one in Victoria, which is a good sign,’ Dr Kelly told reporters on Saturday.
‘In New South Wales on the other hand, people are more mobile, they are mixing in greater numbers.
‘And there are suggestions from that modelling that people are not taking those messages about physical distancing, hygiene; those key messages about decreasing the risk … as seriously as they currently are in Melbourne.
‘So the R-effective rate is 1.4. That demonstrates that the potential for transmission is higher in NSW.
‘To the people of southwest Sydney, please be careful.’
On Saturday NSW recorded 15 new cases, five of which have been traced back to the Crossroads Hotel Cluster in Casula (pictured, testing near the pub on Friday)
Melbourne still has one government commission tower in strict lockdown in the north of the city (pictured on Saturday) in an attempt to contain the outbreak
On Saturday, NSW recorded 15 new cases, five of which have been traced back to the Crossroads Hotel cluster in Casula, southwest Sydney, which has so far resulted in 45 infections.
One of the cases from Saturday was linked to the Thai Rock restaurant in Wetherill Parkin the city’s west, and four others were returning travellers staying in quarantine hotels.
The origin of the five remaining infections are still unknown and authorities fear community transmission of the virus could be on the rise.
Meanwhile, Victoria recorded its highest daily total of new infections on Friday with 428 confirmed cases.
Another 217 new infections followed on Saturday, with the state’s death toll rising to 35 after another three patients died in just 24 hours.
The deluge of patients has left some of the state’s medical workers feeling helpless and overwhelmed.
‘We have been having sleepless nights for a long time and I don’t know how much longer we can or are expected to keep this up,’ Melbourne emergency physician Aaron Bloch told 7News.
The reproductive rate of the coronavirus is now higher in NSW than it is in Victoria (pictured, a NSW heath worker collects a coronavirus swab test in southwest Sydney on Friday
Victoria recorded its highest daily total of new infections on Friday with 428 confirmed cases, followed by 217 cases on Saturday
A NSW health workers is pictured administering a swab at a coronavirus testing centre in southwest Sydney (pictured on Friday)
Hundreds of health care workers have already become infected in the state, with an additional 11 cases being announced on Saturday – with the total now standing at 405.
Three more nursing homes have also suffered outbreaks.
Dr Kelly said in order to avoid a similar situation in NSW, Sydneysiders must follow the state’s social distancing guidelines.
‘The message to people in southwest Sydney is please be careful, please do not take this time to have large gatherings either at home or outside the home, and to take those messages of physical distancing, personal hygiene, hand washing and so forth very seriously,’ Dr Kelly said.
COVID-19 detectives have so far contacted 10,000 residents in southwest Sydney in the aftermath of the Crossroads hotel outbreak.
The origin of five new COVID-19 infections is unknown and doctors fear community transmission of the virus could be on the rise (pictured, testing at Crossroads Hotel on Friday)