All of NSW is under strict lockdown after a record number of Covid-19 cases that have authorities concerned for Australia’s healthcare system.
The precautionary decision to lock down was made amid a rise in infections in the state, Deputy Premier John Barilaro told ABC News. Virus fragments were also detected in sewage systems in areas with no known cases.
“It’s to make sure that we don’t become overwhelmed. A lot of our small regional communities don’t have an ICU unit so we would be transporting people from little town to some of the major centres,” he said.
The measures came into effect at 5pm (local time) on Saturday. Everyone in NSW is now subject to stay-at-home orders.
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The move comes after New South Wales reported its biggest day of infections since the start of the outbreak, with 466 new community cases.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the large jump in reported infections at a press conference on Saturday. Of the new cases, at least 60 were infectious while in the community.
She confirmed there were also four deaths overnight.
Speaking to media, Berejiklian said it was an “extremely concerning situation” in NSW.
As of Saturday, there were 378 Covid-19 patients in hospital, with 64 in intensive care and 29 on ventilators. Four people in intensive care were in their 20s, six were in their 30s and seven were in their 40s.
As a result of the growing outbreak, NSW has introduced harsh measures to clamp down on rule breakers and to stop transmission. These include on the spot fines of up to AUD$5000 for people who breach Covid-19 restrictions.
Police are deploying riot squads, and are setting up road blocks and random checkpoints to limit movement in the state, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The 10 kilometre movement radius in Greater Sydney is being cut to 5km, and people in local government areas will have to apply for a permit to visit regional areas.
To help with enforcement, about 500 Australian Defence Force officers are expected to be deployed at the request of police, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Australia’s state of Victoria has recorded 21 new local cases of Covid-19 on Saturday.
According to its health department, the new cases were linked to previously reported cases. Eleven of the 21 cases were in isolation for all of their infectious periods.
As a result of the outbreak, a lockdown is in place in Melbourne until August 19.
Queensland recorded six new local cases on Saturday, all of which were linked to the existing school outbreak and were detected while they were at home in quarantine. Parts of Queensland, including Brisbane, remain in lockdown.
On Friday, New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, and the Australian Capital Territory all reported new community cases of Covid-19.
NSW reported a further 390 community cases of Covid-19 on Friday, as well as two deaths.
Of those infected, at least 60 people were out in the community while infectious, Berejiklian said.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, she said the trend of high case numbers was likely to continue.
Lockdown restrictions are in place for parts of New South Wales, Melbourne in Victoria, and ACT as a result of the outbreaks.
Additional reporting by AAP.