‘Nothing we’ve seen before’: NSW outbreak

NSW residents have been warned there are still worse days to come in their worrying outbreak of the Delta variant of coronavirus.

The state posted a record 124 new locally acquired cases, with even greater numbers expected in the coming days.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian issued a grave warning on Wednesday, pleading with residents to keep following the rules.

“I can’t underscore what a serious situation we’re in at the moment,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“Now, given that number of infectious in the community, I’m expecting case numbers to go up even higher.”

At least 48 of the new cases had not been isolating at all while infectious and 22 had spent part of their infectious period in the community.

The isolation status of 17 others is still being investigated.

NSW Health issued a correction since tweeting official data on Wednesday, clarifying the number of people in hospital is 118, with 28 patients in intensive care.

Fresh outbreaks have been confirmed in aged and disability care centres, highlighting the danger of the troubled national vaccine rollout.

Three unvaccinated staff members across two NSW aged care homes, as well as five individuals connected to a disability care facility.

Jeremy McAnulty from NSW Health revealed new outbreaks in those vulnerable settings on Wednesday.

One of the new cases was a worker at The Palms at Kirrawee, a southern Sydney aged care home.

“This person wasn’t vaccinated and the residents and staff have been tested,” Dr McAnulty said.

Two staff members at Japara Corymbia, an aged care facility in Belrose, also contracted the virus.

All other staff and residents at the two Sydney facilities have since been tested for coronavirus and both centres have been locked down.

Meanwhile, 65 staff and 21 residents of a disability group home are self-isolating after a COVID-positive worker unknowingly passed the virus on to three residents and another employee.

All five cases had only received one dose of a vaccine, despite being included in the highest priority group for immunisation.

The cases at Unisson Disability in Parklea, an NDIS-funded facility, mark the first known outbreak in a disability group home.

“The employee was infectious from July 12 and worked four shifts in the same house during their infectious period until receiving the positive test result on July 20,” Unisson chief executive David Kneeshaw said.

“Unisson is working closely with contact tracers and NSW Health to identify all potential close contacts of the employee and is organising testing to take place.”

A relative of one of the residents told the ABC she was very concerned about  the situation.

“The residents of these facilities live in close quarters, have a high rotation of staff and generally have quite high needs requiring a lot of physical contact all day for things like toileting and showering,” she said.

“Many are at significant risk of dying from COVID due to comorbidities.”

From Friday, anyone who lives in the Canterbury-Bankstown local government area will only be allowed to work in health or aged care outside of their area if they have been tested for COVID-19 in the previous 72 hours.

NSW Health said this includes cleaners, cooks, and security providers.

Ms Berejiklian has warned the Delta variant is particularly worrying as it spreads so quickly among the young.

“It’s like nothing we’ve seen before. It’s affecting and impacting people in many different ways,” she said.

“It’s concerning that over 55 per cent of people that have this virus strain are under the age of 55 so this is a very, very different and more contagious strain than we’ve seen and it’s a concern that that rate continues to be high.”

Ms Berejiklian was not able to provide a definitive end date for lockdowns across the state, but hinted that an answer may come next week.

“We’ve said there will be still, of course, a level every restriction on July 31 but the extent of that we can’t convey until we have more information closer to that date,” she said.

“We’ll be able to tell the community this time next week or thereabouts what July 31 looks like and we’ll rely on the information we have up until that time to make those announcements.”

But she warned residents should prepare to live with some level of restrictions until the majority of the population is vaccinated.

Just over 14 per cent of the eligible population aged over 16 is fully vaccinated, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison apologising for elements of the botched rollout on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Queensland has moved to ban travellers from all of NSW from 1am on Friday to prevent interstate spread of the Delta variant.

Restrictions are easing across the Sunshine State from Friday, with health authorities reasoning a closed border will offer greater protection for residents.

-with agencies

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