Monday, 29 Nov 2021

Covid 19 coronavirus: Australia struggling with Delta as NSW, Victoria outbreaks grow

New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia remain in lockdown as the country grapples with multiple Covid-19 outbreaks.

NSW recorded 124 new community cases of Covid-19 today, with at least 48 of those cases infectious while in the community. The source of infection for 57 of the new cases is under investigation.

Victoria also recorded 26 new community cases, with all of those cases linked to existing clusters. All but two cases were in quarantine throughout their infectious periods.

On Wednesday, NSW recorded 110 new community cases of the virus, while Victoria recorded 22 and SA recorded six.

There are growing fears over the Sydney outbreak in particular, with NSW authorities taking a week or more to identify high-risk exposure sites across the city and daily new cases remaining high.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian attempted to quell concerns about the ongoing outbreak, but said the state’s tough new restrictions needed more time to work.

The Sydney outbreak sparked a Covid-19 cluster in Victoria after Sydney-based furniture movers worked at an apartment complex in Melbourne while unknowingly infectious, and the outbreak in Victoria then spread to Queensland after a woman tested positive for the virus on Tuesday after travelling home from Melbourne.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has taken aim at the NSW government for its failure to contain the virus, saying on Monday “as soon as they get it under control, it takes a lot of pressure off us and Adelaide and Brisbane and the whole country,” adding that the outbreak “has to be pulled up in Sydney”.

NSW

NSW recorded 124 new community cases of Covid-19 today, with at least 48 of those cases infectious while in the community.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has warned the worst is yet to come, with authorities expecting that “case numbers will continue to go up”.

The rapid rate of spread and the highly infectious nature of the Delta strain means contact tracers are scrambling to find and test any close contacts as quickly as possible.

But the high number of people infectious in the community before they’re intercepted means spread continues.

Berejiklian had a stark message for residents as vaccine rates remain low, saying yesterday NSW “won’t be able to live freely unless we quash this outbreak”.

“Our vaccination rates are so low and yet we’ve done really well in stemming the growth of the virus,” she said.

“What we need to do now is quash it, because with the vaccine rates the way they are, we won’t be able to live freely and safely unless we’re able to quash this outbreak.”

A leading epidemiologist has warned Greater Sydney to brace for a much longer lockdown than expected, with current restrictions needing more time to work.

“I would have thought that even if the numbers start to drop off next week or peak next week, we’re looking at another two weeks,” Professor Sanjaya Senanayake from the Australian National University said today.

“To see the impact of the weekend restrictions that were brought in, we might have to wait till the very end of this week or the start of next week.”

Regardless, he doubts the lockdown will end on July 30.

Victoria

Victoria recorded 26 new community cases of Covid-19 today, with all of those cases linked to existing clusters. All but two cases were in quarantine throughout their infectious periods.

There are now 133 cases linked to the two outbreaks in Victoria that jumped the border from Sydney’s deadly Delta cluster – one from a team of Sydney removalists that transited through the state and the other a family who returned to Melbourne’s north from a NSW red zone.

More than 18,000 primary close contacts have been identified during the state’s latest outbreak, with 6, 800 of those linked to the MCG, AAMI Park and Trinity Grammar. The state’s list of exposure sites is nearing 400.

The government believes the state’s lockdown, and its week-long extension, is working against the Delta variant.

“Two days ago, there was only 6 per cent of our daily cases were fully isolating in quarantine. Today it is 73 per cent have been fully isolated during their period of infectivity,” Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said yesterday.

“What this means is that our contact tracers and our restrictions are working in tandem as part of the public health team’s tool kit to beat this virus back and to beat this outbreak back, step-by-step.”

South Australia

South Australia recorded six cases of Covid-19 yesterday, taking Adelaide’s cluster to 12 with fears there will be more infections to come from two “super-spreading” events.

Premier Steven Marshall revealed late on Wednesday afternoon that the new cases included five linked to the Tenafeate Creek Winery and an additional case from The Greek on Halifax restaurant.

SA chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier described both venues as “examples of super-spreading events” as the state’s list of exposure sites continued to grow.

“It is very serious. I am concerned. I am also very pleased that we were able to put a lockdown in place so quickly,” she told reporters. “I think people in South Australia do need to prepare themselves for more cases — that is certainly my expectation.”

SA entered a snap seven-day lockdown on Tuesday night after health authorities confirmed the Delta variant had infiltrated the state.

“We hate to put these restrictions in place but we have just one chance, one chance to get this right,” Marshall said on Tuesday. “If we don’t get this right we could be in an extended lockdown situation and that is something we have always wanted to avoid.”

Queensland

Queensland recorded no new community cases of Covid-19 yesterday after after a woman visited several locations around the Sunshine Coast while infected.

Acting Premier Steven Miles said the woman, aged in her 20s, had been infectious in the community with the Delta variant for about three days after returning home from Melbourne.

Queensland has Covid-19 restrictions in place for Brisbane and other regions in the south-east. These include mandatory face mask use in public, gathering restrictions, and visitor restrictions for vulnerable person facilities (hospitals, aged care and disability accommodation services).

Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said on Tuesday the woman being out and about in the community for three days had potentially put thousands of people at risk and the list of exposure sites had been updated.

Queensland has now joined Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia in closing its border entirely to NSW. The hard border will come into effect at 1am local time.

Miles made the announcement, adding that people living in communities along the border will only be able to cross for essential purposes.

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