NSW has recorded 18 new coronavirus infections and Premier Gladys Berejiklian hopes to be able to confirm soon when a lockdown in Sydney and surrounding regions will end.
“The lockdown is having its desired effect to date, no doubt about that,” she said on Tuesday.
“But it’s still concerning that a number of cases are remaining infectious in the community for that period of time.
“I hope to be able to communicate to the community tomorrow on what next week looks like.”
Stay-at-home orders for more than five million people in Greater Sydney, Wollongong, Shellharbour, the Central Coast and the Blue Mountains regions are due to end at midnight on Friday.
Of the 18 new cases, seven were in the community for some or all of their infectious period. Eleven were isolated for the entire time.
Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant says 16 of the cases are linked to a known case or cluster and of those, nine are household contacts of previously confirmed cases.
Concerns remain over a cluster at a Sydney nursing home where five residents have tested positive, amid reports a third staff member has been diagnosed with the virus at the SummitCare home at Baulkham Hills in Sydney’s northwest.
At least 500 nurses are in isolation after potentially being exposed to COVID-19 while working at Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital, NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association head Brett Holmes said on Tuesday.
Five wards have been identified as areas of exposure. Patients are being diverted to other hospitals, only urgent and emergency surgeries are going ahead and other nurses are being asked to work extra hours, he added.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said this had put the hospital system under “enormous pressure” but with a total staff of 140,000, RNS was large enough to cope.
“That’s pressure but it’s not compromising patient safety,” he said.
At Fairfield Hospital 120 health staff have been told to isolate, leaving others to work 12-hour shifts over the weekend.
Meanwhile, 13 NRL St George players have been fined for attending a party at the home of Paul Vaughan on Saturday night.
NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys said he was dismayed by the behaviour of the footballers as well as people who attended a party in Waterloo in inner Sydney where three partygoers became infected.
“These sorts of things are the sort of events that will put everyone backwards so they’re quite selfish and I think there’s quite a bit of anger,” he told ABC TV.
Elsewhere, NSW Health has issued fresh alerts for seven new venues, including a pharmacy at Belfield in Sydney’s southwest and the Adventist Hospital at Wahroonga in Sydney’s north.
The two-week lockdown in NSW is expected to cost the economy around $750 million a week or more, according to St George Bank economists.