'Critical' phase amid 31 new NSW cases

·3-min read

The next few days in NSW are "critical" as the state continues to record new COVID-19 cases in people who have been infectious in the community.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Friday said she was relieved local case numbers had not significantly spiked in recent days, but authorities wanted to see a rise in the proportion of new cases already in isolation.

NSW recorded 31 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 to 8pm on Thursday, the highest daily number in the state since the pandemic's first wave in early 2020.

The new case numbers take the tally to 226 since June 16.

Fifteen of the cases were in the community for all or part of their infectious period, while 11 were in isolation for the entire time.

Five of the newly reported cases remain under investigation.

Ms Berejiklian said the current numbers reflected the days leading up to the announcement last Saturday of the 14-day lockdown of Greater Sydney and surrounds.

"I will say that the next few days are critical," she told reporters.

"Come early next week we do want to see that tide turned."

Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant refused to be drawn on whether she would advise that the lockdown, due to end next Friday, be extended.

Dr Chant said she would be looking closely at the number of new cases which were in isolation and at unlinked chains of transmission.

Some 27 of the new cases are linked to previously confirmed cases.

Eight of the new cases are associated with a 24-year-old student nurse who worked up to five days while infectious with COVID-19.

The cluster around the nurse now tallies 10, including five healthcare or aged care workers. Four of them worked while infectious, while one did not.

Almost 400 staff and patients deemed close contacts are in isolation.

NSW Health on Friday afternoon also issued a new close contact alert for Coles at Bondi Junction's Eastgate Shopping Centre.

Anyone at the supermarket between 2pm and 7pm on Tuesday and between 5.30pm and 6.30pm on Wednesday must get tested and isolate for 14 days.

Shoppers at certain times last Saturday will be casual contacts.

The alert follows earlier warnings for potential exposure sites including the T2 domestic terminal at Sydney Airport, the Des Renford Swimming Pool at Maroubra in Sydney's east and Club Marconi at Bossley Park in the west.

The virus has been spreading more in retail settings amid lockdown than in hospitality venues, beauticians and hairdressers, Dr Chant said.

"Please don't go out and about shopping in retail if you've got any symptoms," she said.

A record 73,602 people were tested in the 24-hour reporting period.

The record for the daily number of vaccines administered by NSW Health was also broken, with 21,289 people jabbed in the 24-hour period.

The record comes as pharmacies plead to be more involved in NSW's vaccine rollout, having been enlisted on Thursday to administer jabs.

A trial involving 22 pharmacies in regional NSW administering AstraZeneca from mid-July is not enough, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia said.

The limited trial "still misses the mark", NSW branch president Chelsea Felkai said, and the full pharmacist workforce should be deployed.

"We desperately need a patient-centric approach that puts the community first, but it is apparent that the NSW government's approach to the rollout does not support this," Ms Felkai said in a statement.

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