The reason Sydney lockdown could last for longer than two weeks

Experts believe Sydney’s lockdown could last longer than two weeks after NSW reported 30 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday.

Greater Sydney, the NSW Central Coast, Wollongong and the Blue Mountains were placed into lockdown on Saturday for the next two weeks.

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant was asked on Sunday whether lockdown will extend past midnight July 9 when it is currently scheduled to finish.

She said authorities want “sufficient time” to bring the outbreak under control "and two weeks we deemed as necessary.

“Shorter outbreaks really are just about catching up whereas we really want to get to no community transmission as soon as possible and basically extinguish it,” she said.

The response indicates health authorites won't be confident to ease lockdown restrictions while cases continue to pop up.

Health authorities want to extinguish community transmission before opening up again. Source: Getty
Health authorities want to extinguish community transmission before opening up again. Source: Getty

In the three days before Melbourne entered a one-week lockdown on May 27, it had four, 10 and 12 daily new cases. That lockdown was ultimately extended to two weeks.

However comparing the latest cluster to the Berala and Northern Beaches outbreaks from late last year, Dr Chant said what made controlling those clusters and understanding them difficult was the number of unlinked cases.

“There were quite a lot of unknown cases,” Dr Chant said.

However during the Bondi outbreak, cases have been “clearly linked” albeit one enduring mystery case in a 9-year-old school girl.

"Obviously, we have to be very cautious and look at the data every day but that is why I indicated that, if we all take this very seriously, we maintain those testing numbers, then, two weeks may be sufficient."

Ideally, she added, by the end of the second week all cases and close contacts who are identified will have already been in isolation.

A surfer walks past a sign for a COVID-19 testing clinic at Bondi Beach in Sydney on the first full day of a two-week coronavirus lockdown to contain an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant.
A surfer at Bondi Beach near a Covid testing clinic. Source: Getty Images

'The horse has bolted,' expert warns

However Professor Mary-Louise McLaws, a World Health Organisation adviser, told The Sydney Morning Herald she believes NSW will be fortunate if the lockdown only lasts two weeks.

“The horse has bolted, but the horse started bolting last week,” she told the paper.

Professor McLaws believes the lockdown started almost "a week too late”.

There are also concerns the Delta variant, which is more transmissible, has been allowed to fester in the community. Of 30 cases reported Sunday, only 11 were in isolation while infectious.

Of Saturday’s 29 cases, 17 weren’t in isolation while infectious.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian was asked what she made of the criticism levelled at her government’s approach to the virus and if they took action too late.

“The health advice changed very quickly yesterday [Saturday] and I made sure that, as soon as Dr Chant and the experts indicated concerns, we got together our crisis Cabinet and adopted in full the health advice – and that is something we have always done,” she said.

The premier said she does not regret “a single decision”.

Sydney family among fines for breaching stay at home orders

A Sydney family has been fined for disregarding coronavirus restrictions and travelling to regional NSW for a sporting event.

Police were called to a pony club event in Denman, in the NSW Hunter region, on Saturday about 3.20pm.

A member of the public was concerned three people, a 56-year-old man, a 22-year-old woman and a 13-year-old girl, had travelled to the horse trial event from Sydney.

Police determined the man and teen had travelled from Paddington while the woman had arrived from Maroubra.

The man and woman were fined $1000 and a further $200 each for not wearing face masks.

NSW Police said seven fines of $1000 were issued on Saturday for people breaking the rules with a further eight $200 fines for people failing to wear masks.

Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys said the fines show anyone who travels in contravention to the health orders could cop a penalty.

"What is also noticeable over the last 24 hours is that people in those communities are quite willing to dob in those people who have turned up when they should not have," he said.

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