Health minister “fairly happy” with case numbers to be announced today
The NSW health minister, Brad Hazzard, was on the ABC’s Radio National earlier this morning, where he gave a hint of the latest case numbers to come today.
Hazzard said he wouldn’t give out the numbers, but said he is “fairly happy on that issue”.
The numbers will be announced at 11am today.
Epidemiologist Prof Raina McIntyre is on the ABC right now.
She says that it would be “simple” to mandate masks in Sydney.
“Given the danger that these two events – Christmas and New Year – pose to Sydney and to the rest of Australia, I think it would be a sort of simple intervention to mandate the masks,” she says.
“It’s not going to hurt the economy, which is clearly the concern with any other types of restrictions.
“If you don’t have a mandate, probably about 30-40% of people will wear a mask. If you do have a mandate, it goes right up to close to 100%, which is what we saw in Melbourne. It went from 40% to 100% overnight.”
McIntyre adds that anyone who is infected on Christmas Eve will be “at the peak of their infectiousness on New Year’s Eve.”
“That’s the danger,” she says.
“If we’ve got numbers down to low single digits or zero by Christmas Day, that will put us in a better position. But I think the time to make that decision is now gone, because there’s only two days left. And we need to watch that period between Christmas and New Year very closely as well.”
In South Australia, efforts are continuing to contact – and release – more than 500 people who travelled from NSW and were wrongly told to quarantine for 14 days.
Yesterday the police commissioner, Grant Stevens, apologised for the error, which was caused by a miscommunication of the state’s rules. People who arrived before midnight on Sunday were not required to quarantine, and 100 people were turned away at the border. A further 550 were allowed in but told to quarantine.
AAP reports this morning that about 180 have since been contacted and 160 of those have been released.
New Sydney exposure sites in CBD
Late last night NSW Health released a list of new venues visited by people while they were infectious.
The new venues outside the northern beaches are below. The full list is here.
Anyone who attended any of the following venues at the times specified is considered a
close contact and must get tested immediately and isolate for 14 days regardless of the
- Alexandria Cortex Gym – strength and conditioning class, 1 Bowden Street, Alexandria, on Tuesday 15 December
- Blacktown BodyFit Gym, 27 Sackville Street, Blacktown on Wednesday 16 December, 7am-8am; Thursday 17 December, 7am-8am; Friday 18 December, 7am-8am
- Paddington London Hotel, 85 Underwood Street, Paddington on Thursday 17 December, 8.15pm-9.30pm
- Sydney Paragon Hotel sports bar, 1 Loftus Street, Sydney on Wednesday 16 December, 12.45pm-3.30pm. (Anyone who attended the sports bar during this time for more than one hour is considered a close contact and should get tested and isolate for 14 days even if they receive a negative result. Anyone who attended the sports bar during this time for less than one hour get should tested immediately and isolate pending a negative result.)
Anyone who visited one of the following venues at the times specified is asked to
immediately get tested and isolate until NSW Health provides further information:
- USA Nails, 788A Pacific Highway, Gordon on Thursday 17 December, 12.30pm-1.30pm
- Macquarie Park Premier Academy League under-eights, Macquarie University soccer fields, Macquarie Park on Sunday 13 December, 9am-11am
- Paddington Alimentari, 2 Hopetoun Street, Paddington on Thursday 17 December, 5.30am-6pm; Friday 18 December, 5.30am-6pm; Saturday 19 December, 5.30am-6pm
- Sydney Arthouse Hotel, 275 Pitt Street, Sydney on Thursday 17 December, 11.15am-12.15pm
- Sydney 1 Bligh St, Sydney on Thursday 17 December, 10.30am-10.50am
- Macquarie Shopping Centre, corner of Herring and Waterloo roads, Macquarie Park on Monday 13 December, 11am-1pm. (Please note change of advice from test immediately and isolate to casual contact – monitor for symptoms and test if they appear.)
Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus today. It’s Naaman Zhou here with you.
Sydney residents will find out tomorrow morning whether current restrictions will be lifted in time for Christmas or extended. A lot of that will depend on today’s case numbers, to be released at 11am.
Yesterday NSW recorded 15 new cases of Covid-19 – half the previous day’s rise, and all still linked to the northern beaches outbreak. It also came after a record day of testing, with 38,000 swabs taken.
But there are still fears of greater spread, with evidence of infection at venues outside the northern beaches, and new potential exposure sites released late last night by NSW Health, including some in the Sydney CBD.
Stay with us for all the latest.