Prime Minister Scott Morrison has implored Sydneysiders to stay home to try and halt the rapidly rising number of coronavirus cases in Australia’s largest city.
And he has acknowledged growing frustration in the community over the city’s lockdown, which is headed into an eighth week with new, with tougher restrictions imposed on Sydneysiders designed to further limit movement and stop the spread of the delta strain of COVID-19.
In an interview on Nova FM on Saturday morning, Mr Morrison said “please stay at home and only go out if you really have to, I don’t care where you live in Sydney, just stay home”.
“We’ve got to beat this thing and we’re getting as many vaccines in there as we can. We’ve already put almost additional 400,000 in there to fight this but the best way to fight it is to not move it around, particularly on a weekend” he said.
“Unless you absolutely have to be somewhere else to work or you’re an emergency work or you’re putting jabs in arms or you’re indeed going to get a vaccinated today or to get tested.”
“Please stay at home, you know, watch the telly, read a book, cook a curry.“
Mr Morrison said the federal government had now delivered 15 million vaccine doses and that one in four eligible Australians had now had at least one dose of the vaccine.
More than 70 per cent of over 50s have had at least one dose of a vaccine now while about 83 per cent of over 70s had received at least one jab, he added.
“The day we had on Thursday was equal to the fourth best day that the UK had over their entire vaccination program. So we are hitting the marks we need to hit to get it done. We’ve just got to pull together.”
“I know it’s tough and I know people are angry and I get it. I totally get it. We’ve just got to push through”
Victorian health authorities say there are “very concerned” as the source of eight COVID-19 cases across the state are still a mystery.
The eight infections which do not currently have a source include cases in City of Melbourne, Glenroy, Melton South, Middle Park, Newport, West Brunswick, Wyndham Vale and West Footscray.
Health Department deputy secretary Kate Matson said she was worried about what she was seeing across Melbourne, with the virus already spread across many different suburbs.
She said the Glenroy outbreak was of most angst for health authorities, with a total of 22 cases now spanning eight households.
There are now 345 primary close contacts connected to the Glenroy outbreak, with around a third of those people already testing negative.
Ms Matson said because there were a number of unlinked cases in Victoria, health authorities feared the virus had already permeated wide-ranging parts of Melbourne but not yet been discovered.
“These cases in contacts, live and travel across multiple suburbs, and have generated exposure sites all across Melbourne including some of our busiest shopping centres,” she said.
“We are very concerned by what we’re seeing across Melbourne.
“We still do not have identified sources of acquisition for some, although our teams are constantly reviewing the data, re-interviewing for information and trying to make those links. Of course, genomics might also help in identifying those links.
“Our teams get on top of the cases and clusters that we know about. If we don’t know about it, we can’t get on top of it. We can only find cases by people coming forward for testing.”
A case reported on Friday in Roxburgh Park which was previously unlinked has now been connected to the Glenroy outbreak.
There are now 14,000 primary close contacts connected to the current Victorian outbreak.
The ACT has recorded one new local case in a close contact of a previously recorded case.
There are now a total of seven active cases in the territory, which have been linked to the Greater Sydney outbreak.
“At this stage, none of the active cases are hospitalised,” ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said.
Canberra entered a seven-day lockdown on August 12.
There were 4500 tests conducted across the region on Friday.
Drive-in vaccination centres in Melbourne’s north, west and south-eastern suburbs will be created to meet current high demand for jabs across Melbourne.
Health Minister Martin Foley said places like Wyndham and Whittlesea would have drive-through sites created.
“We’ve seen demand for AstraZeneca, particularly from young people, increase in numbers over the past week … and I want to thank them for coming forward in record numbers for their first jab,” he said.
“The drive-in centres which have gone so well in its first week, like in Melton, will be expanded.”
Three people are in hospital, with one person in intensive care.
With 29,490 vaccinations recorded across Friday in state clinics, it was a record-breaking day for the state.
Mr Foley urged Victorians to get tested whenever they had symptoms, because there was “every chance” those who catch the virus and do not get tested will pass it on to others.
“We really do need to get that 33,000 (per day testing) number back up to that 40,000 number to help us track down those chains of transmission,” he said.
“It’s so important: if you have symptoms, you need to go and get tested. If someone in your family has symptoms, encourage them to get tested.”
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the Delta strain of the virus means Australia now needs to increase its vaccination rate to experience the same freedoms as other countries.
“For a long time, nearly a year and a half, we were different to the rest of the world, and now, we are not different from the rest of the world,” Ms Berejiklian said on Saturday.
“The delta strain is diabolical, and we have to accept and be real about that.
“Even when you throw everything at it … cases are still emerging, and that apparent.“
Ms Berejiklian has previously said her government would be in a better position to consider easing some restrictions if six million doses were recorded across the state by the end of August.
“I’m a realist, and when you get to those double doses, and you see that reduction in hospitalisation, you can live more freely, you can do things that other people in other parts of the world are doing and that is what we are working towards and why we are racing and sprinting to get those vaccination rates there,” she said.
There will be higher fines for breaching health order in NSW from midnight on Monday:
- $5000 on the spot fine for breaching self-isolation rules.
- $5000 on the spot fine for lying on a permit (already a criminal offence).
- $5000 on the spot fine for lying to a contact tracer (already a criminal offence).
- $3000 on the spot fine for breaching the two person outdoor exercise/recreation rule.
- $3000 on the spot fine for breaching rules around entry into regional NSW for authorised work, inspecting real estate and travelling to your second home.
“These are some of the strongest powers we’ve ever had in the history of the NSW Police Force, as part of the government’s strategy to get in front of the virus in the coming weeks – it’s all about getting ahead of Delta, not chasing it,” NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said.
“From this week we’ll be issuing $5000 fines to people and closing premises which continue to break the health orders. Don’t complain if this happens to you – police are over the rule breakers.”
There are current 378 people with COVID-19 in hospital, of whom 64 are in intensive care and 29 require ventilation.
Four people in intensive care are in their 20s, six are in their 30s and seven are in their 40s.
There has also been an increase in fragments of the virus being detected in the sewage at Broken Hill, Ballina and Brooklyn, and residents of these areas are being urged to monitor closely for symptoms and to come forward for testing if they emerge.
The restrictions allowing Sydneysiders to move within 10 kilometres of their home has been cut to five kilometres, with residents having to apply for a permit to visit regional areas.
NSW Police will ramp up its presence in areas of concern from Sunday, including deploying riot squads and enhancing random checkpoints at key roads.
About 500 extra Australian Defence Force officers will also be deployed, following a request from NSW Police.
Fines for breaching health orders will be increased from $1000 to $5000. Ms Berejiklian said police would be able to impose the harsher fine from Saturday.
The new five-kilometre movement rule will come into effect for Sydneysider from Monday.
It will “mean that there will be less number of people in certain locations because … no one will be able to go further than five kilometres of their home”, Ms Berejiklian said.
“You will need a permit to go into regional NSW, whether you are in authorised worker, travelling to a second home because you might be a worker utilising a second home or inspecting real estate,” Ms Berejiklian said. The rule will come into effect from next Saturday.
NSW has recorded 466 new local cases and four deaths overnight, with 68 infectious in the community.
About 76 were in isolation for their entire infectious period and 19 were isolated for part of their infectious period.
The number of new cases is the highest daily figure recorded since the start of this outbreak, in what Premier Gladys Berejiklian described as a “really extremely concerning situation”.
The deaths include a woman in her 40s in palliative care who was unvaccinated, a man in his 70s who had pre-existing conditions and was vaccinated, a man in his 80s who died at Concord Hospital and was unvaccinated, and a woman in her 70s who died at Campbelltown Hospital, whose vaccination status has not yet been confirmed.
Ms Berejiklian said on Saturday that case numbers in two of the major local government areas of concern, Fairfield and Canterbury-Bankstown, have stabilised.
“Those two local government areas have gone from low levels of vaccination to at least 40 per cent of first doses,” she said.
However, cases are rising in Blacktown, Doonside, Mount Druitt, Maryland, Guildford and Auburn.
There were also 26 new cases recorded in Dubbo and the surrounding region in western NSW, with Ms Berejiklian flagging a possible expansion of regional areas that are in lockdown.
There were 130,000 tests in the latest reporting period.