Stern warning despite promising NSW coronavirus case numbers

Tom Flanagan
·News Reporter
·3-min read

NSW has announced zero new locally acquired coronavirus cases in the previous 24-hour reporting period however the state’s acting premier has delivered a stern warning to residents following unsatisfactory testing rates.

There were 22,275 tests processed in the previous 24-hour period, a total John Barilaro said was “far too low”.

“If we're going to succeed in staying ahead of the Covid pandemic, testing is crucial in large numbers so we can be confident of the data when we're making decisions,” he told reporters.

There were 18,923 tests the previous day.

Health authorities are now focusing on a cluster surrounding the western suburb of Berala. Source: Getty
Health authorities are now focusing on a cluster surrounding the western suburb of Berala. Source: Getty

Mr Barilaro called for a similar response seen from the Northern Beaches, which at the peak of its outbreak, contributed to 70,000 tests in one day.

He pleaded with residents to seek testing as a further two cases were identified overnight after the end of the reporting period up to 8pm, with the cases to be reported in Tuesday’s figures.

“My callout to Western Sydney today and to New South Wales is to get tested.”

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said she wanted to see daily testing numbers well above 30,000.

New cases expected with Berala cluster

One of the two new cases overnight is linked to the Berala cluster and takes it to 15 cases in total.

The second case is believed to also be associated with the same cluster, but this is yet to be confirmed.

Health authorities have shifted their focus to the cluster, with Dr Chant warning there will likely be more cases linked to it.

One location of particular concern is the BWS bottle shop in the suburb, with Dr Chant ordering anyone who attended between December 22 to December 31 to isolate for two weeks and get tested.

Such an order has affected thousands of residents with more than 1000 people attending the bottle shop on Christmas Eve alone.

Anyone who was at the BWS or Woolworths in Berala Shopping Centre on December 20 between 12.30pm and 2pm should get tested and self-isolate until receiving a negative result.

Monday’s zero cases is the first time since December 16 there was no locally acquired cases in a 24-hour reporting period.

The Berala cluster began after a healthcare worker who was involved in transporting returned travellers contracted the virus last month.

A close contact of the worker unknowingly contracted the virus before attending the BWS.

Mr Barilaro said the state government would not hesitate in implementing a localised lockdown in Berala if further untraceable cases emerged.

The northern section of the Northern Beaches remains under stay-at-home orders. Those orders will remain in place until at least Saturday.

Greater Sydney mask mandate kicks in

On Monday, residents of Greater Sydney are ordered to wear face masks in certain indoor settings.

Masks are mandatory in shopping centres, on public transport, in places of worship, hair and beauty premises, entertainment venues such as cinemas and other indoor venues like post offices and banks.

Hospitality workers are also required to wear one.

Anyone who flouts the rule can face a fine of $200.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said anyone who didn’t want to wear a mask in those settings should stay away.

“If they don't like the idea of a mask, stay home or stay outside. You don't have to go into the shopping centres and put other people at danger,” he told reporters.

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