Sydney’s coronavirus crisis may be about to get substantially worse after worryingly low testing numbers in the city’s south-west revealed the area could be a ticking Covid time bomb.
The suburbs in the area have the highest number of cases but the lowest testing rates, meaning they are potentially many more people with the virus who are yet to be detected.
Those fears increased with the release of a mammoth 63 new exposure sites across the city on Sunday night, with many in the south-west including busy supermarkets, as the impact of so many infected cases moving around the community hit home.
Despite the lockdown being due to end on Friday, New South Wales-based NRL clubs have relocated to Queensland and been told they should be prepared to stay for ‘at least four weeks’ – indicating the lockdown is far from over and could last another month.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian has already warned cases are likely to be around the 100 mark on Monday, and said that the figure is only going to get worse as the week progresses.
Just days after the outbreak moved west out of Sydney’s eastern suburbs where it began on June 16, there are already 105 cases in Fairfield.
But those positive test results – almost a fifth of the total 562 cases statewide in the current outbreak – come from the lowest testing rates in the city.
Sydney’s coronavirus crisis could be about to get substantially worse after extremely low testing rates in Fairfield revealed the area could be a ticking Covid timebomb (pictured, locals in Bankstowm)
Suburbs in Sydney’s south-west are already the number one disease hotspots in the state, but testing data suggests an even worse situation is unfolding. Seen here is an under-used testing site in Liverpool on Saturday
To 8pm on Saturday, just 19,707 tests had been carried out on Fairfield locals – equal to a testing rate of just 93 tests per 1,000 population – but still returned 105 positive results.
That compares with 46,409 tests in Waverley, equal to 625 tests per 1,000, which found 69 positive results, and 70,269 tests in Randwick, equal to 451 per 1,000, which confirmed 50 cases.
Even the Northern Beaches – which has not had a single case in the latest outbreak – has maintained a testing rate of 188 tests per 1,000 population, with more than 51,000 tests done in the last four weeks.
The poor Fairfield testing figures and relatively high positivity rate suggest many cases are lingering undiagnosed, with cases predicted to explode in coming days.
‘I‘m anticipating the numbers in New South Wales will be greater than 100 tomorrow,’ Ms Berejiklian admitted on Sunday.
‘I’ll be shocked if it’s less than 100 this time tomorrow.’
Just days after the outbreak moved west out of Sydney’s eastern suburbs where it began on June 16, there are already 105 cases in Fairfield (pictured, locals in Liverpool on Saturday)
To 8pm on Saturday, just 19,707 tests in total had been carried out on Fairfield locals – equal to a testing rate of just 93 tests per 1,000 population – but still returned 105 positive results (pictured, testing staff in Fairfield on July 10)
It comes as Sunday’s new case numbers jumped from 50 on Saturday to the current new daily high of 77, as well as Australia’s first death from the disease in 2021.
Of those 77, 33 were infectious in the community and 22 were mystery infections, meaning they’re not linked to any known contacts or outbreaks.
Both of these figures are being used by NSW Health officials to decide on future restrictions and any further extension of lockdown, as they point towards the virus circulating uncontained in the community.
With relatively low testing rates and high infection figures seen in the city’s south-west, experts predict the escalating crisis will see the Greater Sydney lockdown extended beyond Friday – having already been lengthened twice.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian (pictured) warned Sydneysiders to expect more than 100 new cases in Monday’s daily case tally
COVID EXPOSURE SITES REVEALED SUNDAY NIGHT
Anyone who visited the following venues is considered a close contact and should get tested and isolate for 14 days, regardless of result:
Greenacre: Greenacre Medical Practice – Monday July 5, 11.40am – 1.50pm and Tuesday July 6, 12.40pm – 1.45pm
Kogarah: President Ave Fruit World – Monday July 5, 11am – 11.15am
Kogarah: Supreme Pizza Kogarah – Tuesday July 6, 3pm – 10pm
Kogarah: Commonwealth Bank – Monday July 5, 3.05pm – 3.35pm
Edensor Park: Fred’s Fruit Market – Friday July 9, 2pm – 3pm
Fairfield: Sunshine One in Neeta City Shopping Centre – Thursday July 8, 1.50pm – 2.10pm
Fairfield: Guirguis Family Medical Practice – Friday July 9, 1.30pm – 2.30pm
Fairfield: Fairfield Imaging Centre – Thursday July 8, 1.15pm – 2pm
Fairfield: Myhealth Fairfield – Thursday July 8, 12.30pm – 1pm
Fairfield: iMedic iCare Medical Centre – Thursday July 8, 11am – 3pm
Fairfield Heights: Fairfield Heights Primary Health – Tuesday July 6, 9.45am – 12.15pm
Fairfield Heights: Fairfield Heights Pharmacy – Tuesday July 6, 11.45am – 12.30pm
Fairfield Heights: S K Market – Tuesday July 6, 7am – 11am, Wednesday July 7, 7am – 11am, Thursday July 8, 7am – 11am and Friday July 9, 7am – 12pm
Anyone who visited the following venues is considered a casual contact and should get tested and isolate until they receive a negative result:
Bass Hill: Woolworths – Saturday July 3, 1.30pm – 2.10pm
Kogarah: Kogarah Fish Market – Wednesday July 7, 1pm – 2pm
Kogarah: Pulse Espresso Bar – Wednesday July 7, 4.15pm – 4.45pm
Greenacre: Gloria Jeans drive through – Monday July 5, 7pm – 10pm, Tuesday July 6, 5.30pm – 5.45pm and Wednesday July 7, 7.15pm – 10.30pm
Hurstville: Coles – Tuesday July 6, 10.30pm – 10.45pm and Wednesday July 7, 10.15pm – 10.30pm
Dural: Shell Coles Express petrol station – Monday July 5, 8.20am – 8.30am
Dural: Caltex Petrol Station – Monday July 5, 5.10pm – 5.20pm
Miranda: JD Sports in Westfield – Tuesday July 6, 10am – 11am
Eastgardens: Ribs and Burgers in Westfield – Wednesday July 7, 5.30pm – 9.30pm
Fairfield: Aldi in Fairfield Forum Shopping Centre – Sunday July 11, 10am – 10.15am
Sydney: Priceline Pharmacy at World Square, George St – Thursday July 8, 5.30pm – 6pm
Kareela: El Portico Chicken – Wednesday July 7, 5.45pm – 6.10pm
Georges Hall: 7-Eleven service station – Sunday July 4, 5.45pm – 6.15pm
Ramsgate: Coles – Saturday July 3, 9.50pm – 10pm, Sunday July 4, 6am – 10am and Tuesday July 6, 4.45pm – 5pm
Pyrmont: Bar Zini Pyrmont – Wednesday July 7, 1pm – 1.15pm and Thursday July 8, 10am – 10.15am
Pyrmont: Coles – Friday July 2, 6.30pm – 7pm and Tuesday July 6, 1.45pm – 2pm and Thursday July 8, 10.30am – 10.50am
Pyrmont: Jumbo Thai – Thursday July 8, 6.30pm – 7pm
Chippendale: Budget Petrol Chippendale – Tuesday July 6, 7pm – 7.10pm
Fairfield: Fairfield Forum Pharmacy – Wednesday July 7, 10.45am – 12.15pm and Saturday July 10, 10am – 10.30am
Wetherill Park: Greenway Smiles Dental – Wednesday July 7, 2.45pm – 3.30pm and Friday July 9, 11.15am – 11.30am
Wetherill Park: Officeworks – Thursday July 8, 2.45pm – 3.15pm
Caringbah: Freedom Hearing – Tuesday July 6, 9am – 10.15am
Fairfield: Kmart inside Fairfield Forum Shopping Centre – Wednesday July 7, 7pm – 7.20pm
Fairfield: Coles inside Fairfield Forum Shopping Centre – Wednesday July 7, 7.20pm – 7.35pm
Fairfield Heights: Woolworths – Thursday July 8, 6.15pm – 6.30pm
Glebe: Harvey Norman inside Broadway Shopping Centre – Thursday July 8, 11.40am – 12.10pm
Glebe: Kmart inside Broadway Shopping Centre – Thursday July 8, 12.15pm – 12.30pm
Glebe: Aldi inside Broadway Shopping Centre – Thursday July 8, 12.20pm – 1pm
Glebe: Coles inside Broadway Shopping Centre – Thursday July 8, 11.45am – 1.30pm
Glebe: JB HiFi inside Broadway Shopping Centre – Sunday July 4, 12pm – 12.30pm and Thursday July 8, 2pm – 2.45pm
Glebe: Liquorland – Sunday July 4, 2.30pm – 3pm
Prestons: McDonald’s – Monday July 5, 10.50am – 11.45am
Fairy Meadow: McDonald’s – Saturday July 10, 9am – 10am
Miranda: David Jones – Tuesday July 6, 11.30am – 11.45am
Manly: Guzman y Gomez – Saturday July 3, 1.50pm – 2.05pm
Manly: Gloria Jeans Coffee – Saturday July 3, 1.45pm – 2pm
Riverwood: Woolworths – Wednesday July 7, 12pm – 12.30pm
Caringbah: Woolworths inside Caringbah Shopping Village – Sunday July 4, 7.15pm – 8pm
Bass Hill: Bass Hill Plaza – Wednesday July 7, 3pm – 3.30pm
Bass Hill: Kmart inside Bass Hill Plaza – Wednesday July 7, 3pm – 4.30pm
Bass Hill: Broaster Chicken inside Bass Hill Plaza – Wednesday July 7, 3pm – 4.30pm
Hurstville: N&G Mechanical Repairs (including the shared car park with Speed Tyres – Saturday July 3, 1.30pm – 2pm
Kogarah: Cafe 959 – Monday July 5, 9.30am – 10am
Rockdale: KFC Rockdale – Monday July 5, 10.30am – 4.30pm and Thursday July 8, 10.30am – 4.30pm
In response to the deepening crisis and on advice from NSW Health, NRL bosses are to evacuate NSW players and staff to Queensland for a minimum of four weeks.
By Wednesday, 12 clubs will relocate to the Sunshine State to keep the league going in a Covid-safe bubble.
This is all nine Sydney-based teams, as well as the Raiders, Knights and Warriors, who have already been in Terrigal on the Central Coast since the pandemic began.
‘We hope it is only for a month, but if it needs to be longer, it will be,’ admitted ARL chairman Peter V’Landys on Sunday night.
‘These are very difficult decisions.
‘I feel for the players who have to leave their homes for a period. We will not keep players in Queensland any longer than they need to be.’
The culturally-diverse suburbs in Sydney’s south-west have become ground zero in the city’s fight against Covid, as new data reveals the frightening rate the disease is taking a grip there
NEW: USE DAILY MAIL AUSTRALIA’S TRACKER TO FIND THE LATEST EX[POSURE SITES NEAR YOU
The relentlessly growing list of exposure sites swelled again on Sunday, another indicator that lockdown could be extended, with the majority of venues in the south-west but many still lingering in the CBD and eastern suburbs.
The culturally-diverse suburbs in Sydney’s south-west have become ground zero in the city’s fight against Covid, with new data revealing the frightening rate the disease is taking a grip there.
Ms Berejiklian has voiced fears Covid is being spread by large families ‘ignoring the rules’ while numbers spike.
In just a few days, south-western suburbs including Cabramatta, Edensor Park and Canley Vale have already become the number one infection hotspots in the city.
Of the 77 cases announced in Sydney on Sunday, 52 were in south-west Sydney, 11 were in central Sydney and 10 were in south-east Sydney.
That figure compares to the four-week combined total of just 69 cases from the suburbs around Bondi since the outbreak began with an infected limo driver who transported international flight crews.
The white knuckle expansion rate in Sydney’s south-west prompted renewed pleas from Ms Berejiklian for families there to heed the lockdown rules.
But health experts fear the disease is ripping through the community there because the largely ethnically-diverse profile of the area creates unique challenges.
English is not the first language in 71 per cent of homes in Fairfield, and 50 per cent of the area’s 290,000 population were born overseas, according to council figures.
Ms Berejiklian – whose parents emigrated to Australia from Armenia – fears extended family gatherings are accelerating the spread of the disease in the south-west.
And she also worries that fluid family set-ups, where households regularly mix, will cause the current lockdown to be extended beyond its planned end.
In response to the deepening crisis and on advice from NSW Health, NRL bosses are to evacuate NSW players and staff to Queensland for a minimum of four weeks – indicating a prolonged lockdown (pictured, New Zealand rugby players back in May)
In just a few days, south-western suburbs including Cabramatta, Edensor Park and Canley Vale have already become the number one infection hotspots in the city, closely followed by suburbs in nearby Bankstown (pictured, testing in Liverpool)
‘Can I say to the communities in those areas, many have a similar background to me, please don’t mingle with family,’ she said.
WHICH SUBURBS ARE MOST AT RISK?
Fairfield: 105 cases
Georges River: 29
*cases since June 16
Source: NSW Health
‘I haven’t seen my parents since the lockdown started – it is hard.
‘Can I say to everybody don’t mingle with family, don’t think it is okay to visit your cousins or have sleepovers. Please do not leave the house.’
The premier’s calls were renewed on Sunday by NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant.
‘Please stay at home and that means staying within the one household,’ she stressed. ‘Do not leave that household setting and do not interact with other family members.
‘And I know that that can be a difficult concept, given the closeness of family units, but at this point in time in responding to Covid, we need to keep the households as a discrete unit so we don’t get that risk of further spread.’
Australia’s chief medical officer Paul Kelly also echoed the concern and said he’d been told NSW was trying to get the message across to the communities.
He added: ‘I know New South Wales Health have been increasing their reach in many different ways into the multicultural community of south-west Sydney in particular where there is extraordinary and wonderful family groups that are very closely associating with themselves.
‘In normal times that is a good thing but these are not normal times and so that message really is, stay within your own house and stay within your own family within that house and don’t go out.’
However locals believe badly targeted ad campaigns, which don’t do enough to keep communities updated with the latest lockdown restrictions, are to blame for the soaring case numbers.
‘It’s not about the culture,’ Kate Hoang, federal president of the Vietnamese Community in Australia told the ABC.
‘The south-western Sydney people are following the law and health advice, but sometimes there is definitely an information lag due to language barriers compared to people in other suburbs.
‘We want to do the right thing.’
Deputy NSW Police Commissioner Gary Worboys (pictured) said he hoped the different communities would work together to make sure the message got out promptly.
Deputy NSW Police Commissioner Gary Worboys said he hoped the different communities would work together to make sure the message got out promptly.
‘It’s incumbent on everyone to make sure that people in their family, their friends, that may have difficulty with language or difficulty with the context of where we’re at at the moment, to explain to them that they simply need to stay at home for this while, until such time as the risk has moved,’ he said.
The Fairfield local government area takes in 27 suburbs: Abbotsbury, Bonnyrigg, Bonnyrigg Heights, Bossley Park, Cabramatta, Cabramatta West, Canley Heights, Canley Vale, Carramar, Cecil Park, Edensor Park, Fairfield, Fairfield East, Fairfield Heights, Fairfield West, Greenfield Park, Horsley Park, Lansvale, Mt Pritchard, Old Guildford, Prairiewood, St Johns Park, Smithfield, Villawood, Wakeley, Wetherill Park and Yennora.
The exploding figures in these suburbs have also spilled into the nearby local government areas too.
Canterbury-Bankstown LGA which both borders Fairfield is also in the new danger zone as Sydney’s second-most affected area, with 73 cases in this outbreak.
Canterbury-Bankstown LGA which both borders Fairfield is also in the new danger zone as Sydney’s second-most affected area, with 73 cases in this outbreak (pictured here is a testing site in Fairfield on Saturday)
Randwick and Waverley, which were the earliest affected suburbs in the current outbreak, are the two next most affected, although recent case numbers have dwindled to almost nothing.
But now Liverpool – which also borders Fairfield – is seeing a surge in its case numbers that’s left it as the fifth most affected area in New South Wales with 37 cases.
It’s followed by Georges River (29), Sydney (28), Bayside (24), Cumberland (19), Woollahra (19), Parramatta (13), The Hills Shire (13), Campbelltown (12), Sutherland Shire (11), Strathfield (10), Camden (7), Canada Bay (6), Burwood (5) and Penrith (4).
Next is Blacktown (4), Hornsby (3), Willoughby (3), North Sydney (3), Inner West (3), Ryde (1) and Hunters Hill (1) from the metropolitan Sydney’s LGAs.
Mosman, Lane Cove and Northern Beaches are the only city LGAs not to record a single case in the last four weeks.
Locals believe badly targeted ad campaigns, which don’t do enough to keep communities updated with the latest lockdown restrictions, are to blame for the soaring case numbers (pictured, locals in Liverpool on July 10)