NSW announces ‘friends bubble’ as three new regions in lockdown

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NSW has announced 1022 new Covid cases as the government starts allowing children to meet with friends from today.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said he was excited to confirm that from 12pm children and teenagers aged under 18 will be able to form a 'friends bubble' to have home visits.

It came as the minister announced 10 more lives have been lost to Covid and another region has been forced into lockdown from 5pm tonight. 

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has warned October will be a challenging month for the state as hospitalisations and deaths will likely peak. Source: AAP
Premier Gladys Berejiklian has warned October will be a challenging month for the state as hospitalisations and deaths will likely peak. Source: AAP

Of the 10 people who died in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday, one was in their 50s, one in their 60s, two in their 70s, five in their 80s and one in their 90s.

Across NSW there are 1266 Covid patients in hospital, 244 people are in intensive care and 118 people are on ventilators.

'Friend bubbles' a 'balancing act'

Mr Hazzard said the allowance would mean children could be together and it balances Covid-safety with mental health and wellbeing.

"It's a balancing act," Mr Hazzard said. 

"We're in an epidemic and everything has to be a balance. The strict epidemiological views would be we all should stay somewhere away from everybody else forever. 

"But the mental health issues and other socialisation issues and the fact that we're human beings means there has to be a balance and I think that's where the crisis cabinet strikes the balance."

The bubble allows for children and teenagers aged under 18 to have home visits.

Each child can designate two friends, those two friends must always be the same and anyone aged over 18 at any of the households in those bubbles must be fully vaccinated.

However, parents and carers who are dropping children off must not stay and interact with other parents and carers.

The friends must reside within 5km of each other or in the same LGA.

Three northern LGAs in lockdown

Mr Hazzard also announced the LGAs of Tweed, Byron and Kempsey would go into lockdown from 5pm on Tuesday.

The lockdown will last for seven days at this stage.

People in those three LGAs must stay at home and only leave for essential reasons — shopping for food, medical care, getting vaccinated, compassionate needs, exercise and work or tertiary education if you can't do so at home.

Northern NSW Local Health District identified a single Covid case on Monday night, not a local, but a person who flew from Sydney to Ballina on September 18.

Several exposure sites were identified in Kingscliff, Lismore and Goonellabah.

On Sunday, two cases were identified in the Kempsey area, though NSW Health said the cases were not acquired in the area.

On Monday, NSW recorded 935 new Covid-19 infections and four deaths, while the premier reiterated October would be the "worst month", despite the case load being below 1000 for the first time in weeks.

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