New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the state is not “out of the woods” yet and there will be an increased risk over Christmas of the virus spreading, as the state recorded another nine positive infections.
Seven of the new cases are linked to the Avalon cluster, now at 104 cases, and the other two are under investigation.
Berejiklian said one of the cases under investigation was problematic because the person was infectious when they went to work in an office in Sydney’s CBD.
The other case under investigation is a man in his 20s who lives in Sydney’s northern beaches who has tested positive, but his household has tested negative.
A location of concern to health authorities is a sports bar inside the Paragon Hotel at Circular Quay, which now has three cases associated with it.
NSW Health said anyone who attended the location on the afternoon of 16 December was now considered a close contact and needed to get tested and self isolate for 14 days, regardless of results.
“They are all eventually linked to the Avalon cluster but it does mean there are potential chains of transmission that we’re not on top of and that is a concern,” Berejiklian said.
NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant said there were now six cases in NSW under investigation.
One of those is a patient transport worker involved with international travellers, who did not acquire it from overseas but rather is “linked by an unknown source to the Avalon cluster”, according to genomic sequencing results.
“Investigations are continuing, that is one of the cases that we are keen to get to the bottom of, because it represents a chain of transmission we cannot explain,” Chant said.
The new cases come the day after the Premier announced “modest tweaks” to restrictions yesterday, allowing households to have more visitors through to Boxing Day.
The changes included effectively carving NSW into four distinct zones with varying sets of rules, including splitting the northern beaches into two sections and isolating the most impacted suburbs.
Despite a record 60,184 tests conducted yesterday, up from 41,865 the day before, the premier said “we are far from out of the woods”.
“In fact, we have to be extra vigilant over the next few days,” she said.
Berejiklian said despite the temporary easement of Covid-19 rules, it was important to “reduce mobility”.
Chant also warned people with even the “most minimalist of symptoms” should not wait until after Boxing Day to get tested.
However, Chant said the citizen response to date has caused her to “have a lot of trust in the NSW community”.
“I nearly fell off my chair, literally, when Dr Chant and I realised that 60,000 people came forward for testing last night,” Berejiklian said.
“That many people in a 24-hour period is outstanding.”