There has been a worrying increase in positive COVID tests in New South Wales with 18 new cases of community transmission, prompting New Year’s Eve restrictions to be tightened.
Nine of the new cases are linked to the cluster on Sydney’s northern beaches.
Six cases are connected to a new cluster that has emerged at Croydon in Sydney’s inner west.
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Three others are still under investigation including two that have tested positive in Wollongong.
The six cases in the Croydon cluster are all family members with officials expecting the number of connected cases to rise.
“The Croydon cluster is of concern because there are no direct links at this stage,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
“The health experts are working overtime with all extended family members who are involved to make sure that that cluster, all contact details and venues and movements of that family are made apparent so we can identify all the close contacts.”
Tougher restrictions have now been imposed for New Year’s for all of Greater Sydney including Wollongong, the Blue Mountains and Central Coast.
Households will be limited to having just five guests in their home for New Year’s Eve while outdoor gatherings will be limited to just 30.
Residents on the northern beaches can only have guests from their area.
“The Croydon cluster demonstrates what happens when there are larger family gatherings and how it only takes one person in that family gathering to give it to even else in the family. We don’t want New Year’s Eve to be the cause of a super-spreader,” Ms Berejikjlian said.
“Our preferred advice is that people just stay home for New Year’s Eve, but if must have people over, don’t have more than five and please make sure you have adequate social distancing, good ventilation.”
The Premier has also announced that all aged-care facilities across Sydney will be locked down with no visitors allowed until at least January 6.
Aged care facilities in regional areas will remain open, but visitors from Sydney will be banned.