There was another record day of testing yesterday, with 117,000 people coming forward.
Meanwhile, the spread of COVID-19 at an aged care home in Sydney’s inner-west appears to be linked to Christmas in July party.
Nursing home outbreak linked to ‘Christmas in July’ party
Addressing the aged care outbreak in the daily COVID-19 press conference, NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said 18 patients and two staff at the Wyoming Nursing Home in Summer Hill, also known as Hardi Summer Hill, had been caught up in the facility’s COVID-19 outbreak.
“The positive patients have been removed from that facility and, as a precaution, the remainder of residents of that facility are also being removed,” she said.
“The outbreak is occurring on that top floor and that action has been taken as a precautionary approach.
“I can confirm that 83 per cent of the patients were vaccinated and 75 percent of staff at the facility were vaccinated.”
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said a Christmas in July lunch – amid lockdown – sparked the outbreak at the nursing home.
“Effectively a super-spreading event that occurred in the facility… sometimes it’s not a good idea to have a Christmas in July right in the middle of a pandemic.”
Dr Chant later clarified that residents on the bottom floor had not been exposed to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“All of the residents in the top floor are being removed, some are COVID positive and some of them are COVID negative,” she said.
“As a precaution to support the staffing and to reduce any infection control risks in that facility, that action has been taken.”
She said overall, about 30 residents had been removed.
Dr Chant also said a number of aged care facilities had been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak after a worker had shifts across multiple facilities.
“There has been guidance out, and I understand the Commonwealth has support payments in place to support health workers not working across multiple aged care facilities,” she said.
Record testing continues
Earlier today, NSW Premier Berejiklian thanked people for coming out for a record number of tests.
“It shows the community is responding to our calls to maintain the high rights of testing,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
She said workplaces remained the central drivers of the increasing cases.
A man in his 90s has died after contracting COVID-19, NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant has said.
He was linked to the outbreak in the aged care ward at Liverpool Hospital.
Dr Chant said the man had received one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Ms Berejiklian has called on NSW residents to make August the month they get vaccinated.
She said authorities didn’t know of anybody in intensive care who had received both doses of the vaccine.
“In particular our efforts will be focused this week and next week on businesses, on workers who are working in those local government areas (of concern) and having to go out of those eight local government areas in particular, but also people aged between 20 and 40,” she said.
Lockdown could lift in regions before August 28
Ms Berejiklian said some areas could emerge from lockdown ahead of the end of August, depending on health advice.
“If the health experts tell us that the Central Coast, Shellharbour and Wollongong are able to be treated as regional NSW, we will take that advice,” she said.
“It is positive that we have seen very low numbers in those regions. If the health experts say to the NSW government those communities can be treated the same as the rest of regional NSW, we will take that advice.”
Living in lockdown ‘not a success’
Ms Berejiklian has admitted that lockdown is never a mark of “success”.
Asked if the consistent rates of people infectious in the community were a sign the lockdown had failed, she said, “it is not a success when you have your community living in lockdown”.
“What future success will be is having our population live as safely and as freely as possible,” she added.
“I don’t think anybody will suggest, least of all me, that living in a lockdown is a good place to be. It is horrible.
“We know we have no option at this stage.”
Premier ‘confident’ schools will be open before 2022
Ms Berejiklian has said she is “confident” schools will re-open before 2022.
However, she has refused to commit to it, saying any decision would be based on health advice.
“I can’t predict the future but I certainly am confident that schools will go back before then,” she said.
She said getting people back to work and back to school was the government’s priority.
Freight, food distribution workplaces spreading outbreak
Dr Chant has listed freight and food processing workplaces as areas of concern for spreading COVID-19.
“Because of the good processes that people have put in place, they haven’t led to large numbers of cases,” she said.
“But they are obviously complex because we need to keep those workplaces operational and we need to do a lot of work, in terms of finding out the close contacts on those big work places.”
She urged people in essential workplaces to avoid social areas like the kitchen or tea room.
Troops on the streets
The highly-visible presence comes as the NSW Premier says the state could see an easing of lockdown restrictions when adult vaccination rates hit 50 per cent.
Around 300 troops will be helping police with compliance checks from this morning, making sure close contacts of confirmed cases are isolating at home.
That’s because a majority of the state’s coronavirus cases are in those regions and authorities have the next four weeks to contain the spread of the highly infectious Delta strain.
The Navy has also been called on to help with contact tracing.
Ms Berejiklian says vaccinations could be Sydney’s golden ticket out of lockdown, hinting some restrictions could ease restrictions at the end of the month if jab rates increase.
The current four-week lockdown extension is due to be lifted on August 28.
“Let August be the month we break records and vaccinations because that is how we get freedom,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“But we know that it is also incremental … once we hit milestones, once you get to 50 per cent vaccination, 60 per cent, 70 per cent it obviously triggers more freedoms,” Ms Berejiklian said.
As of yesterday, 19 per cent of NSW adults had been fully vaccinated.
NSW was vaccinating about 500,000 people a week but the Premier says that could be increased as more pharmacies start administrating shots and the government opens more hubs.