'Act fast': Drastic call as coronavirus cases continue to mount in Sydney

Yahoo News Australia and agencies
·4-min read

Following a surge of Covid cases reported in NSW a day before New Year’s Eve, there have been calls for the state to do more to contain the outbreak.

On Wednesday, 18 new locally acquired cases were reported in NSW, nine of which are linked to the Avalon cluster on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

Five cases were confirmed to be linked to a case mentioned in Tuesday’s press conference, but counted in Wednesday’s numbers, taking the ‘Croydon cluster’ in Sydney’s inner-west to six.

All of the six cases are from the same extended family across three households who gathered for several events over a number of days.

A general view of Manly beach, in Sydney, Saturday, December 26, 2020
All of Greater Sydney will have tightened restrictions for New Year's Eve, as Covid cases were identified outside the Northern Beaches. Source; AAP

"The Croydon cluster is concerning because there's no established link," Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Wednesday.

Three cases in the state are under investigation - two from the same household in the Wollongong area and one in northern Sydney.

The rising cases prompted restrictions which will impact New Year’s Eve celebrations across Greater Sydney, however one doctor is calling for more to be done.

On Wednesday after the case numbers were announced, ABC’s medical commentator Dr Norman Swan appeared on the ABC where he was asked if NSW’s “precautionary principle” aligned with the new restrictions.

“The precautionary principle is act fast, act early, beg for forgiveness later because there’s nice prizes for being late to this party,” Dr Swan told the ABC.

Two week lockdown to prevent second wave

Given there has been seeding of the virus throughout Greater Sydney and in Wollongong following Christmas and ahead of the New Year, Dr Swan said the “precautionary principle” would be locking Sydney down for “about two weeks”.

“Effectively doing what Victoria did but doing it probably a bit earlier than Victoria did to prevent a serious second wave,” Dr Swan said.

“And the worst that can happen here is that nothing happens but the risk here is that it's spreading through greater metropolitan Sydney and Greater Sydney and you don't know where it is and there are clusters that you may not have identified.”

Long lines of cars queue for COVID-19 testing at the inner west suburb of Five Dock, Wednesday, December 30, 2020.
The inner west of Sydney is on high alert after further cases of Covid-19 have been identified. Source: AAP

He also mentioned a mask mandate and said he believes the upcoming Sydney Test should go ahead without spectators.

While he praised contact tracers working in NSW, he warned it doesn’t take long to “overwhelm” a system.

“Now is the time to lockdown when people are on holiday,” Dr Swan said, after explaining modelling from a professor at Sydney University suggests every day a lockdown is not implemented, adds a week to a lockdown.

Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks to go ahead

The 18 new cases were announced alongside changes to restrictions for New Year’s Eve festivities in Sydney, however the fireworks are still going ahead.

For Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong areas people are only allowed to have household gatherings of five people.

Outdoor gatherings, such are picnics, are now restricted to 30 people in those areas.

"Our preferred advice is that people just stay home for New Year's Eve,” Ms Berejiklian said on Wednesday.

Residents in the Northern Beaches in both the northern and southern zones are only allowed to have five people over on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Those people must also be from those regions.

Only 10 people from those regions can gather outdoors for exercise and recreation, provided people stay in their region.

Though the midnight fireworks on Sydney Harbour are going ahead, the city has has largely banned crowds along the foreshore.

There will be no fireworks display at 9pm on New Year’s Eve, only at midnight.

Sydney will go ahead with the midnight fireworks display on New Year's Eve. Source: AAP
Sydney will go ahead with the midnight fireworks display on New Year's Eve. Source: AAP

Australian cities cancel NYE fireworks

Sydney city has been split into green and yellow zones and people will need to acquire a pass to celebrate in those areas.

Meanwhile, Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide and Brisbane have all cancelled fireworks displays

Hobart's fireworks will go ahead but like Sydney, people are being urged not to gather on the waterfront.

Darwin residents will need to register and wear wristbands to attend the city's two fireworks displays on Thursday night.

In marked contrast to the rest of the country, Perth's celebrations will be nearly normal and there will be two fireworks display.

Residents are still being urged to register their details, stay socially distanced and use hand sanitiser.

With AAP

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