'Ring of steel' pressure mounts after first Indigenous Covid death

·3-min read

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is under mounting pressure to implement a ‘ring of steel’ around Sydney following Australia’s first Indigenous coronavirus death.

The man in his 50s from Dubbo was among four Covid-related deaths on Monday, taking the Delta outbreak’s death toll to 93.

“Overnight we unfortunately had four deaths and again we extend our deepest condolences to the loved ones of the people who have passed away and, again, while every day we read out the statistics, we know that behind every death there is a family and those who are mourning,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian and NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant during a COVID-19 update in Sydney, Monday, August 30, 2021. Source: AAP
The four deaths announced on Monday were a man in his 50s in Dubbo, two men in their 70s and a woman in her 60s. Source: AAP

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant added the patient who passed away at Dubbo Hospital had underlying health conditions and was not vaccinated.

He was the first person in regional NSW to die from the virus.

Western NSW Local Health District chief executive Scott McLachlan revealed the man was Aboriginal.

"A very sad and sombre day with the passing of a 50-year-old Aboriginal man in Dubbo Health Service," he told a local press conference.

"Sincere sympathies and thoughts go out to the family and friends of the broader Aboriginal community across Dubbo and the whole of the region.”

He said his death highlighted the importance of vaccinations.

“We know that people will die if the vaccines do not get into arms.”

“This is the time for us all to get the jab.”

In Dubbo — where 434 of the Western NSW Health District's 561 cases reside - just nine per cent of Indigenous people are vaccinated.

It came as the state reported 1,290 new locally acquired infections, setting yet another bleak record for the pandemic.

Of those, 51 were in the Western NSW Local Health District, including a Corrective Services Officer at Bathurst prison.

NSW Health's ongoing sewage surveillance program has also detected fragments of the virus at the sewage treatment plants in Trangie in western NSW and Byron Bay on the north coast.

Renewed calls for ‘ring of steel’ around Sydney

The NSW Opposition Leader Chris Minns has joined calls for a “ring of steel”, as the virus runs rampant across the state.

He follows Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and a long list of regional MPs, councillors and epidemiologists who have been demanding more be done to stop the virus spreading outside of Sydney.

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A ‘ring of steel’ refers to the Victorian model adopted in 2020 which separated lockdown-Melbourne from the rest of the state.

So far, both Ms Berejiklian and Prime Minister Scott Morrison have rejected proposals to ring-fence Sydney.

“Unless you have literally a police officer outside every single household … a ring of steel does not prevent Delta from seeping out,” Ms Berejiklian said earlier this month.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House is seen behind a high fence at sunset in Sydney. Source: AAP
Gladys Berejiklian has rejecteed calls for a ring of steel around Covid-hit Sydney. Source: AAP

Social media has been flooded with comments slamming the NSW Government’s failure to implement a ‘ring of steel’ following news of the Dubbo death.

“Do you know why Sydney should have set up a ring of steel? This is why. Too late now,” commented one Twitter user.

Another said “#ringofsteel would have prevented this most likely.”

“Failure to lock down the state and impose a ring of steel means we all suffer as a result,” posted another.

with AAP

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