Coronavirus cases in NSW without a clear source of transmission are on the rise, nudging the state closer to a lockdown scenario.
The state branch of the Australian Medical Association, meanwhile, has called for an immediate lockdown amid “highly unusual times” and an assurance healthcare workers can access protective gear.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on Friday in NSW rose by 186 to stand at 1405. Of those cases, the source of infection for 145 people is unknown, prompting concern among health authorities.
This number is the primary barometer with which NSW authorities are gauging the success of shutdown measures in halting the virus’ spread.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian urged people to be vigilant and sensible, adding no one should leave their homes unless they have to.
But if COVID-19 cases from community-to-community transmission continue to rise, a more comprehensive lockdown would be needed.
“That tells us we are starting to see the increasing spread from unknown sources,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney on Friday.
“There’s a number of (lockdown) trigger points – you look at the proportion of community-to-community transfer, the capacity of our hospital system, how many people are presenting to hospital with the disease.
“You also look to see how much community activity has been reduced.”
Ms Berejiklian said it would be important for residents to have time to “absorb” government decisions, and reiterated that at least seven days were required to determine the success of current restrictions.
Nevertheless, she said she was willing to move ahead of NSW Health advice – an action demanded on Friday by AMA NSW.
President Dr Kean-Seng Lim said stronger physical distancing measures were required immediately and called for a “central point of command” within the health system, rather than local health district management.
He also demanded assurances doctors and nurses were protected from infection through access equipment such as masks and gloves.
“We don’t want to see any deaths of healthcare workers in NSW and the community needs to do everything possible to support that goal … these are highly unusual times,” Dr Lim said in a statement.
“We are calling on every person in NSW to play their part and stay home.”
It comes as the NSW government announces a second round of economic stimulus measures including an additional $750 million to sustain businesses and retrain retrenched employees.
Payroll tax would for six months be deferred for businesses with payrolls over $10 million and waived for those under $10 million.
Tax relief has also been enacted for pubs, clubs and hotels, as well as rental relief for small businesses working out of government-owned buildings.
An additional $74 million will be provided for homelessness, charities, mental health support and energy bill relief.
“Our expectation is that any relief provided by the NSW government will be used to contribute to help businesses stay in business and people stay in jobs,” NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said in a statement.
“It’s vital we keep people employed and ensure we have the ability to rebound when things improve.”
NSW last week injected $2.3 billion into the economy in its first stimulus package including $700 for increased health spending.
Ms Berejiklian on Thursday said police would ramp up their public presence and no cruise ship passengers would be permitted to disembark in NSW until clearer protocols were established with border authorities.
Police have the power to hand out fines of $1000 to individuals and $5000 to businesses that breach public health orders or ministerial directions.
Crimestoppers in the past two days had received 600 calls alleging self-isolation flouting, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said on Friday.