More cases added to Sydney virus cluster

A person living in Wollongong on the NSW south coast has tested positive for COVID-19 but has no obvious link to a growing cluster on Sydney’s northern beaches.

“We don’t want people to think we’re out of the woods, far from it,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Tuesday, two days out from New Year’s Eve.

A number of other cases outside the northern beaches area, that don’t have immediate links to the so-called Avalon cluster, have also been found.


They come on top of three new infections confirmed in the 24 hours to 8pm on Monday.

All are people already in isolation and linked to the cluster, which now stands at 129 cases. The cases were identified from 16,329 tests.

Ms Berejiklian pleaded with residents across the state to get tested in higher numbers and to be on “high alert”.

She wants Sydneysiders to demonstrate “personal responsibility” and stay COVID-safe on New Year’s Eve.

NSW Police and the federal government have warned they will punish breaches of public health orders.

Federal Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said the government was looking at deporting any of the people at a large party at Bronte Beach on Christmas Day.

“Under the Migration Act if someone is threatening public safety or health their visa can be cancelled or revoked,” he warned.

NSW Police Minister David Elliott has warned police can fine or jail people who breach the rules and pointed to a number of “disgraceful acts” of “blatant disregard” for health orders over the Christmas holiday period.

He described the actions of a group of northern beaches locals who blatantly breached lockdown rules to attend a wedding reception as a “bastard act”.

Twelve people aged between 19 and 63 were fined after going to the reception in inner-city Pyrmont on Sunday, despite the orders put in place after the cluster was found in their local area.

“You have been living in an area where there has been a cluster … and now everyone at that wedding has to worry if they have been exposed to COVID-19,” Mr Elliott told Sydney radio 2GB.

Sydneysiders have been mostly banned from watching the famous New Year’s Eve fireworks after the city’s harbour foreshores shut down for the first time.

It’s also upset the government’s plan to host frontline COVID-19 workers, including health workers and teachers, on the eastern foreshore on Thursday night.

The state government is telling people to stay at home and watch the shortened seven-minute show at midnight to usher in 2021 on television.

The northern beaches will kick off 2021 at home after NSW authorities extended stay-at-home orders.

However, small indoor gatherings on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day will be allowed.

Overnight on Tuesday, NSW Health issued alerts for a number of venues in the Sydney CBD and Edgecliff and Bondi Beach in the eastern suburbs and a number of related bus and train routes.

The government says stay-at-home orders applying to northern beaches residents north of the Narrabeen Bridge will continue until at least January 9.

A lockdown for the peninsula’s southern zone will remain in place until January 2.

Restrictions for Greater Sydney and regional NSW remain largely unchanged for New Year’s Eve – barring the restrictions around the harbour – but outdoor gatherings in Greater Sydney have been tightened to a maximum of 50 people, down from 100.

© AAP 2020