Virus still circulating, 24 new NSW cases

NSW has recorded 24 new local COVID-19 cases as Premier Gladys Berejiklian admits the virus is “continuing to circulate” in the community, despite a 14-day lockdown.

The 24 new local cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday came from almost 60,000 tests and included a student nurse – revealed on Wednesday – who worked at Fairfield and Royal North Shore hospitals in Sydney.

Another nurse – a close friend of the student nurse who worked at RNS, Fairfield and also Royal Ryde Rehabilitation Hospital – was diagnosed with the virus after the 8pm deadline.

Ms Berejiklian said 12 of the 24 reported cases were out in the community while infectious, which was concerning.

“People going about their business, shopping and interacting with others is causing the virus to continue to circulate,” she told reporters.

“We are seeing workers who are leaving the house with symptoms or going to work and then inadvertently as they are going about shopping or other activity, they are passing it onto others.

“If we want the lockdown to succeed, all of us to have minimise our movements, minimise our interaction with others, as difficult as that is.”

Ms Berejiklian also announced mass COVID-19 vaccination hubs would be established in Wollongong and Macquarie Fields, while another hub in the Hunter is already in the works.

Another large clinic will also be established in the Sydney CBD.

It’s hoped the new hubs will boost the number of jabs administered in NSW to 200,000 a week and enable authorities to dramatically ramp up vaccinations once Pfizer supply increases.

Additionally, 22 pharmacies in remote NSW will from July 19 be cleared to dole out the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The Bondi cluster at the centre of Sydney’s outbreak now numbers 175 and the total number of cases since the outbreak began on June 16 stands at 195.

Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant on Wednesday revealed an unvaccinated 24-year-old student nurse who worked at RNS and Fairfield hospitals had the virus, sending more than 100 patients and staff into isolation.

She worked for five days while potentially infectious, while one of her household contacts had also tested virus-positive.

Dr Chant on Thursday confirmed a second nurse had caught the virus but said that person was likely not working while infectious.

Another close contact of the 24-year-old was an unvaccinated aged care worker at Summit Care in Baulkham Hills in northwest Sydney. Dr Chant did not specify if that person has yet tested COVID-positive.

She added almost all of the 149 residents at the Baulkham Hills facility had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Two people also tested positive after flying on Saturday from Gold Coast to Sydney on VA524, catching the virus from a crew member, but both were in isolation.

Meanwhile, NSW Health has apologised to Customer Services Minister Victor Dominello for giving him incorrect advice about his exposure to a COVID-19 positive cabinet colleague and sending him back into isolation.

Mr Dominello was mistakenly told he no longer needed to quarantine after being in contact with Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall who was diagnosed with COVID-19 last week after dining at a Paddington pizzeria.

However, they backtracked late on Wednesday and determined Mr Dominello was a close contact and needed to isolate for the full 14 days.

Dr Chant admitted an error had occurred but was confident Mr Dominello’s period out of isolation did not pose a risk to the community as he had tested COVID-negative and was also asymptomatic.

NSW Health has also issued health alerts for numerous bus and train routes as well as more than 20 venues in Sydney’s east, south and west.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance said healthcare and front line workers should avoid using public transport for the time being.

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