Huge lines at testing centres as Covid outbreak spreads 120km from cluster

NSW residents have responded to calls for coronavirus testing from concerned health authorities in the wake of three new cases without established links to Sydney’s Northern Beaches cluster.

One of the new cases lives in Wollongong, 120km south of where the cluster of 129 cases is centred in Avalon.

The case, along with another in Sydney’s north and the inner west, had recently visited Sydney’s CBD.

Images show huge lines of residents queuing for testing in Wollongong on Wednesday morning and follows similar scenes on Tuesday evening.

Several people took to Twitter to document the queues, with one user saying a friend had waited six hours on Tuesday for a test.

Testing centres opened their doors early to deal with the wave of people seeking testing, Today reported.

Long Covid testing queues in Wollongong. Source: AAP
Long queues in Wollongong seen on Tuesday have continued on Wednesday. Source: AAP

Wollongong’s coronavirus hotspots

Close-contact health alerts were issued on Tuesday afternoon for two Greek Orthodox churches in Wollongong on December 27 – St Nektarios Church and The Holy Cross Church.

Anyone at St Nektarios on Sunday between 9am and 10.15am or The Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church between 10.30am and 11am must be tested immediately and self-isolate until receiving their results.

Casual-contact alerts also apply for three venues in the area.

Anyone who visited Figtree Grove Shopping Centre, Pittwater Place shopping centre and Wollongong Central at certain times between December 21 and December 24 is considered a casual contact and must get tested and isolate until a negative result is received.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has renewed calls for greater Sydney and the surrounding areas to be on “high alert”.

"We don't want people to think we're out of the woods, far from it," NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said the 16,329 tests processed in the previous 24 hours was too low and called for people to come forward for testing. She’d like to see daily numbers up towards 30,000.

New Year’s warning from premier

The new cases come as Sydney approaches a subdued New Year's Eve, with people across most of the city limited to outdoor gatherings of 50.

On the Northern Beaches in the northern zone, gatherings of five people will be permitted and 10 in the southern zone of the Northern Beaches.

Ms Berejiklian implored residents in all parts of Sydney to demonstrate "personal responsibility" and stay COVID-safe on New Year's Eve.

Sydneysiders are mostly banned from watching the famous New Year's Eve fireworks from the harbour after the foreshore was shut for the first time.

The state government is telling people to stay at home and watch the shortened seven-minute show at midnight on television.

Waverley Mayor Paula Masselos said areas of Bronte Beach would be fenced off to prevent a repeat of “selfish” behaviour witnessed in the area on Christmas Day where hundreds gathered without social distancing.

Stay-at-home orders applying to Northern Beaches residents north of the Narrabeen Bridge will continue until at least January 9. A lockdown for the peninsula's southern zone will be in place until January 2.

With AAP

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