Five new community cases in NSW, as testing rates drop 'too low'

Five new community cases in NSW, as testing rates drop 'too low'

There were five cases of community transmission in NSW recorded to 8pm Monday, as health officials and state leaders warned that testing rates across the state had dropped too low.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the roughly 14,000 tests recorded in the 24 hour period were not enough to "combat the rumblings that are going on", with officials asking for the community to aim for a testing rate of 25,000 a day.

"As we see the disease is still bumbling along in the community, and we need to be vigilant about that," she said.

Two of the locally acquired cases were reported on Monday - a man in his 40s who presented at Mount Druitt and a close household contact of this case.

The investigation into the source of their infections is ongoing.

There were also two cases found in the northern part of the Northern Beaches, which was released from lock down yesterday, who are household contacts of each other. The source of their infections is under investigation.

The final case is directly linked to the Berala cluster and is a close contact of a previously reported case. There are now 27 cases associated with the Berala cluster.

There were also 11 new overseas cases reported in the 24 hour period.

NSW Health's Dr Jeremy McAnulty highlighted several new venues in north and western Sydney which had been added to the state's venue alerts.

These included the Blacktown Workers Sports Club's Grange Buffet, where people will be considered a close contact if they attended for more than one hour on January 10 between 12pm and 1.16pm, or for more than one hour on January 3 between 11:40am and 1:30pm.

These people must immediately get tested and isolate for 14 days, regardless of whether a negative result is received.

Dr McAnulty also reminded people of the importance of the public health rules, including the household visitor limit which has been imposed in Sydney, Wollongong and the Central Coast.

Ms Berejiklian said this was the setting she wanted people to focus on the most in the coming days, as the chance of spreading the virus between households was high.

"This is the one restriction we want people to focus on," she said, noting the state was unlikely to see any of its restrictions eased this week.

Asked about the Western Australian premier's comments that NSW's strategy was at odds with the rest of the nation, Ms Berejiklian said she was confident in her state's approach.

"I'm extremely confident, I think we have the best contact tracing team in the nation, and that allows us to make decisions that don't place unnecessary burdens on our citizens," she said.

She said NSW's strategy was to achieve a healthy balance between protecting public health and achieving "zero community transmission", while also protecting peoples mental health and the economy.

"I don't want a situation that exists in other states, where things are done very quickly," she said.

"I don't want to subject our citizens to that - generally speaking I want people to know we will always strive to maintain that level of normality when we can."

She said Australia would need to learn to live with COVID for a significant amount of time, especially as it continued to allow Australian citizens to return home.

"I'm pleased we're halving the rate [of overseas arrivals] for the next month to give us a pause," she said, noting that NSW had accepted 100,000 people back home to Australia since March 2020.

"It's pleasing that NSW will take in 1500 Australians a week, instead of 3000."

This story Five new community cases in NSW, as testing rates drop 'too low' first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.