Saturday was meant to be the day Greater Sydney emerged from a two-week lockdown, but instead the city has recorded another 50 cases and woken to the toughest COVID-19 restrictions in over a year.
The new cases were diagnosed from over 42,000 tests in the 24 hours to 8pm on Friday, and include 26 who were active in the community for part of their infectious period.
It is the worst day of the current virus outbreak, prompting the NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian to again warn lockdown will likely be extended.
“When you know that there are 26 cases infectious in the community, the only conclusion we can draw is that things are going to get worse before they get better.”
She again appealed for Sydneysiders to stop bending the lockdown rules, citing at least two people who police caught holding illegal gatherings overnight.
“The vast majority of those (new) cases – and I can’t stress this enough – are close family or friends of people who have COVID,” she told reporters.
“If you truly love your parents, your sisters, your best friends, please stick to the rules.”
Fines or infringement notices were handed out to 167 people over the past day, for rules breaches across the entire state.
“Cutting corners, flouting the rules is going to prolong the lockdown, and that’s the last thing any of us want to see,” the premier said.
Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant also made an impassioned plea for people to be truthful with contact tracers.
“We know that everyone is human and makes poor decisions at certain times, but please don’t compound that initial mistake by not telling us the truth the first time,” she said.
“At the moment, as we’re trying to get ahead of the spread of the virus, we haven’t got time to waste unpicking stories, going back and cross-checking and verifying.”
Some 47 COVID-19 patients in NSW have been admitted to hospital, of which 16 people, including a teenager, are in intensive care and four are ventilated, including one person aged in their 20s.
However, importantly, no one who has received two doses of either vaccine has been hospitalised, Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said.
“Two doses of either… vaccine is incredibly effective at preventing hospitalisation and death, with is an incredibly positive contribution,” she said.
When announcing the tough new restrictions on Friday, the premier said a premature reopening of Greater Sydney would result in thousands of coronavirus cases, hospitalisations and deaths.
The tough new rules, limiting exercise to groups of two and banning browsing at shops, came into effect as the state’s health department on Friday issued more alerts for retail stores across Sydney.
Among them are Woolworths stores in Mascot and Ashfield, Aldi stores in Hoxton Park, Quakers Hill and Ashfield, a Beacon Lighting shop in Bankstown, and KFC in Rockdale.
Several places are listed as close contact exposure sites for periods of seven hours or longer.
They include an Ikea at Tempe, where a staffer worked whilst infectious, and a construction site at Homebush.
Seven furniture stores along the same road in Campbelltown have also been identified as venues of concern for visitors on Sunday afternoon.
The new restrictions also permit only one person per household to leave the home for shopping each day, and limit funerals to 10 people.
© AAP 2021