Tensions are rising in the NSW state government with a reported division in how to handle the ongoing Delta coronavirus outbreak.
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has publicly admitted he opposed the one-week extension of the Greater Sydney lockdown. Now other senior ministers in the state government are canvassing support to abandon a "zero Covid" strategy, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
"What has become clear is we have reached a fork in the road," one minister told the paper, saying the government needed to decide whether to keep going with damaging measures or "accept the virus will circulate".
However the idea to resign to the fact of community spread at this time has been slammed by public health experts.
Michelle Ananda-Rajah, an infectious disease specialist at Monash University, has blasted members of the government who are considering abandoning lockdown measures to contain the infectious Delta strain.
Speaking to ABC Breakfast on Friday morning, she branded the idea as "absolutely irresponsible".
"I'm going to paraphrase Joe Biden here, there's no living with Covid. There's only dying with Covid in an unvaccinated population.
"Covid zero is the only goal that the whole country should be aiming for while we remain susceptible to this virus."
Dr Ananda-Rajah urged state leaders to continue with an eradication strategy, saying trying to negotiate with the Delta strain amounted to a "dangerous game of political brinksmanship".
"They're trying to chase down an accelerating train here. And it's frankly - it's irresponsible and dangerous."
"We need to return to Covid zero as quickly as possible in order to prevent our hospitals from overflowing and our cemeteries from overflowing."
Gladys trashes idea to end elimination, tightens restrictions
About two weeks into the lockdown, NSW recorded record a record 44 new daily cases on Friday.
It is the highest number of daily cases since the outbreak began on June 16 and serves to highlight serious questions about contact tracers' ability to get on top of the spread of infection.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian fired a clear shot at colleagues, saying there was no other option but pursuing zero community transmission.
“Until we get higher rates of vaccination we cannot afford to live with the virus and we need to quash it now and we need to get as close to the zero number as possible before we open up," she said.
"When I say that zero number, the number of people who have been infectious in the community – last night it was 29 and I suspect it will grow tomorrow.
“So until we get to zero or close to the zero, we cannot ease restrictions."
The premier outlined tougher restrictions for those under stay at home orders, including kilometre restrictions on exercise and stricter limits on funeral attendance.
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