New South Wales has reported 356 local Covid cases, prompting the government to review exceptions that allow people to travel to regions and crack down on compliance.
On Tuesday, the state also recorded three deaths – a man in his 70s, a man in his 80s and a woman in her 80s. A returning passenger in his 80s unrelated to the delta outbreak also died.
Byron Bay and three other local government areas on the north coast were put into an abrupt seven-day closure Monday night after a man traveled to the area from Sydney and remained in the community for up to eight days.
Authorities said that apart from his family, no other cases have been identified so far. But tests are underway.
The man was taken to hospital and is being questioned by the police. Understandably, he looked at expensive real estate, but there were reports that he did not log into places with QR codes, which makes tracing difficult.
“All I am prepared to say about our traveler to Byron is that the police are looking very closely at what he was doing in that area,” Health Minister Brad Hazzard said. I am confident that the police will be able to take appropriate action at the right time.
“There are things that one has to be a little bit careful about because I won’t compromise part of the police investigation or police procedure.”
Hazard said he asked NSW health The legal section to consider where the rules could be tightened to limit travel to regions.
“My concern is that no matter what orders or legal requirements are in place, you can’t legislate against stupidity, arrogance and entitlement,” he said. “Obviously the rule now is that you don’t just have to travel from one house to another in order to move to another. Choose the property you live in and stay there.”
As examples of permitted movement, said Hazard, a doctor who lives in Sydney But whoever went to the regions three days a week was within the rules. He also provided an example of parents who had separated and were looking for a home for their children.
Hazard said the government has asked the police to strengthen rules to prevent the spread of Covid, including travel to regions, and other rules to prevent movement.
Police use number plate recognition and on Monday towed seven vehicles and turned them over.
“If people apply the rules, if they comply with the rules and the law and apply an element of common sense and a bit of decency to the rest of society, we will be fine,” Hazard said.
No other cases have appeared in Armidale and Tamworth so far, although more cases have appeared in the Newcastle area.
NSW Health Director Dr Kerry Chant said she remained concerned about Canterbury Bankstown in particular. Of the 356 new cases, 71 were in Canterbury, Bankstown, 66 in Cumberland and 38 in Blacktown.
Cases are receding in Fairfield, once a hot spot.
“If there was a simple silver bullet, that would be it,” Chant said. “But from my public health point of view, I’m not happy that case numbers are increasing and we definitely need to do everything we can. But compliance will be one of its components.”
Prime Minister of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, has continued to urge vaccination and runs special vaccination days for specific groups of essential workers, including construction workers.
Hazard said he would like to see all health workers vaccinated in NSW and was in discussions with unions about making vaccination mandatory.
“I think if you want to work inside a health facility, if you want to take care of the sick, you should be vaccinated, because this particular virus is very dangerous,” he said.
The NSW and federal governments have clashed over who is responsible for vaccinating the aged care workforce ahead of a mid-September deadline for the sector’s first doses.
On Tuesday, Hazzard said the state had not put in place a health order requiring the workforce to be vaccinated, saying it remains the responsibility of the federal government.
“We’ve made it clear that if any of the aged care workers want to come to our centers, we’ll vaccinate them. So we’re doing everything we can to help them, and if at some point it gets to the point where we have to put an order in, that’s something the federal government wants to do, And we’ll do it, Hazzard said.
“If they could tell us now and give us that direction, I would happily do so. But it is their facility and organization and they are in charge.”
When asked in Parliament about the rate of vaccination of the workforce, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said NSW had agreed to put in place a public health system and questioned Hazard’s “knowledge state”.
“The subject of mandatory vaccination of aged care workers was the subject of a national cabinet decision which was attended by the New South Wales Prime Minister,” Morrison said.
“Everyone, including the Prime Minister of NSW, has agreed to put these public health orders in place and I have received many updates from the Prime Minister of NSW on the progress being made towards achieving this.”
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the Western Australian government issued its public health guidance on Monday. To date, 57.5% of the aged care workforce has received one dose, and 37% have received two doses.
Berejiklian went on to talk about some easing of lockdown restrictions after August 29, provided the state reaches 6 million doses of vaccine given to the entire population.
“Some suburbs have almost 100% vaccination,” she said. But if the virus does not spread, [in] In this community, we’re keen to make sure we’re reducing spread and increasing vaccination in communities that are particularly vulnerable to the virus and want to make sure that’s a priority.”