“I have advised the government today that this [the NSW Covid outbreak] is a national emergency, and requires additional measures to reduce the case numbers,” said NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant, in a press conference this morning.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian opened this morning’s Covid update with news that there were 136 new cases of local transmission with 53 infectious within the community.
An 89 year-old man has died overnight in NSW.
“It’s become fairly apparent that we won’t be close to zero come next Friday,” said Berejiklian, confirming speculation that Sydney will remain in lockdown.
“The crisis Cabinet meeting of the NSW government met this morning […] where Dr Chant and her team advised us that the situation that exists now in NSW – namely around south-western and now western Sydney suburbs – is regarded as a national emergency.”
Based upon this advice, the NSW government will take further action to control the pandemic.
Workers in Cumberland and Blacktown have been told that they are no longer allowed to leave their communities unless they are on the authorised list of critical workers. The average age of the regions under these strong restrictions is significantly younger than the national average.
“Can I stress that deeply, that we really really want everybody to follow these orders.”
The NSW government has called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Federal government to refocus the national vaccination program. Berejiklian says that her government already has a micro plan in place to vaccinate the hardest hit areas in Sydney.
Berejiklian will be working with her government to provide a ‘road-map’ for the people of NSW.
“Our challenge is to live as freely and as safely as possible until we get enough vaccines in arms […] during August, September and October. According to the Federal vaccination roll-out, we’ll be at a stage where much more of our population will be vaccinated and will be able to live much more freely beyond that point.”
Despite the premier’s insistence on a freer future for NSW, there is no indication that the strict lockdown will be lifted any time soon. Instead, further and harsher measures have been implemented this morning.
“My key message is that we need to follow public health advice. I can’t stress this enough that the actions taken in locking down and reducing mobility – wearing masks indoors, wearing masks outdoors when you come anywhere near anyone… We need to stay the course. We need to do more. We need to re-double our efforts."
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Chant wants the vaccine roll-out focused on Sydney’s outbreak, with both Pfizer and AstraZeneca being distributed in order to prevent the spread of the Delta strain.
“The group of workers that keep the society going is this group of workers in the 20-49 age group in south-western Sydney. Under 40s would not have been routinely eligible for vaccination, in terms of Pfizer, and what I’ve recommended to government is that we urgently do mass-vaccination of those workers,” added Chant.
Previously, the advice from the Chief Health Officer was to vaccinate the vulnerable and over 60s, as they are at significantly greater risk of dying. In Australia, five people have died from Covid under 50 with all remaining deaths in the 50+ age category. The vast majority of those were over 80 despite infection rates being concentrated in the 20-40 age group.
685 of Australia’s 916 deaths came from Aged Care outbreaks, and an additional 8 from in-home Aged Care services – nearly all of which were in Victoria.
“Can I also remind you not to listen to the scare mongers,” said Brad Hazzard, in the same press conference.
Hazzard was heavily criticised for his comments on July 20 in which he came out strongly against those who have chosen not to take the Covid vaccine, describing them as living ‘in another universe’.
“It [Covid] can kill you and it can kill your family – and your friends.”
He then went on to say, “If your GP is not vaccinating, for whatever reason, ask your GP for a referral and advice to go to another GP in the local area, and get your vaccine,” in what appears to be the NSW Health Minister attempting to invalidate the advice of some GPs.