'No end in sight': Expert warns of 'indefinite' Sydney lockdown

·4-min read

The Australian Medical Association has called for the NSW Government to get the Covid outbreak under control, warning the current restrictions in place are not enough to defeat the Delta variant.

On Friday, NSW recorded 97 new locally-acquired cases of Covid-19, with Premier Gladys Berejiklian admitting the case numbers are "not where we would like them".

She said the state government "won't hesitate" to tighten restrictions based on health advice, however on Friday afternoon, AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid called for more to be done immediately.

Sydney reported 97 new Covid-19 cases on Friday. Source: AAP
Sydney reported 97 new Covid-19 cases on Friday. Source: AAP

“The latest Covid-19 infection numbers in Greater Sydney show while the virus is not escalating out of control, current restrictions are not strong enough to bring overall infection numbers down any time soon," he said.  

"Rising unlinked cases and people infectious in the community show we are not ahead of this outbreak. 

"This means there is no end to the lockdown in sight and more needs to be done."

Dr Khorshid said allowing non-essential businesses to remain open "sends the wrong message to the public" and increases the risk of transmission within the community, adding that simply telling the community to not browse is "not enough".

“There is confusion about what is considered essential and non-essential, and the AMA believes it is time for NSW to follow the Victorian approach which gives a clear definition for the public and the business community," he said.

AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid has called for tighter lockdown restrictions in NSW. Source: ABC News via AMA
AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid has called for tighter lockdown restrictions in NSW. Source: ABC News via AMA

The president of the AMA isn't the only one calling for a Victorian, level four-style lockdown. Modelling from the Burnet Institute released earlier this week showed such lockdown restrictions were the only way to get the outbreak under control.

Professor Margaret Hellard AM, the Burnet Institute Deputy Director, said while the restrictions and measures NSW has in place currently have impacted the course of the epidemic, more is needed.

The modelling shows if Stage 4 restrictions were in place now, the epidemic curve would sharply decline.

ABC Medical expert Dr Norman Swan told the national broadcaster the lockdown could span months if stricter restrictions were not enforced, citing the modelling.

Dr Khorshid said on Friday while he appreciates the difficulties facing people in Sydney right down, sticking to the current restrictions will just make things worse.

"More delay will simply make things much worse and impose a much bigger toll on the community,” Dr Khorshid said.

"There is no excuse for further hesitation or delay."

He told reporters states and territories are quite capable of defining what an essential worker is, though NSW is trusting people in Sydney to "do the right thing".

"So something needs to be done differently, we can't just keep doing the same thing and expect a different outcome," he said, also saying it was "absolutely ridiculous" shops selling non-essential items are still open in Sydney.

At the press conference on Friday, Dr Khorshid said if there isn't a sharp drop in numbers, people in Sydney could be subject to restrictions for the "foreseeable future" until everyone is vaccinated.

However, he acknowledged there's not enough vaccine doses to vaccinate the whole of Sydney.

NSW crisis meeting could mean new restrictions

Tighter restrictions may be inevitable, with Nine News Political Reporter Chris O'Keefe telling the network a NSW Crisis Meeting this afternoon will likely mean further restrictions can be expected tomorrow.

"It has been conceded by the government that the current lockdown is not doing the job, it needs to so they will go harder," he said on Friday night.

"A few of the options are shutting retail across Greater Sydney and forbidding certain types of work otherwise a more localised lockdown of the Fairfield area."

Tighter restrictions may be imposed on Greater Sydney following a crisis meeting. Source: AAP Image
Tighter restrictions may be imposed on Greater Sydney following a crisis meeting. Source: AAP

He added the localised lockdown in Fairfield could mean police checkpoints and number plate-reading cameras to crackdown on people leaving the area.

NSW isn't the only state tackling a Covid-19 outbreak at the moment. Queensland recorded one new Covid-19 case and Victoria reported 10 new cases.

Some 12 million people across Australia are in lockdown right now, after Victoria announced a state-wide lockdown yesterday.

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