Sydney Covid-19 cluster continues to grow

Sydney, Dec 19 : A newly-discovered coronavirus cluster in Australia's biggest city of Sydney has continued to grow, with the number of confirmed cases reaching 38 on Saturday, according to health authorities.

The health department of the state of New South Wales (NSW), of which Sydney is the capital, said in a statement that 23 locally acquired cases were recorded in the 24 hours, including 10 that were reported on Friday, and an additional seven cases in hotel quarantine, reports Xinhua news agency.

Among the newly reported locally acquired cases, 21 cases were related to the cluster and two cases' infection source and potential links to other cases were still under investigation, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said in a press conference.

All residents of Northern Beaches, where the Covid-19 cluster emerged, were urged to stay at home from 5 p.m.

on Saturday until the midnight of December 23, unless they are permitted to leave for certain reasons such as essential shopping, medical care, or work.

Hospitality venues in the Northern Beaches were also required to close, with exception of takeaway.

Gyms and places of worship will also close.

Berejiklian urged residents across greater Sydney to limit unnecessary activity in coming days as broader restrictions are considered.

"We understand this is a difficult time for everyone, however we want to give the entire state the best chance to enjoy the Christmas period safely and we need take these steps now," a joint statement from Berejiklian and NSW Minister of Health Brad Hazzard said.

Berejiklian also warned the state of possible stricter restrictions that may be imposed on Sunday.

"I should say, to put everybody on notice, we will be considering today after consulting obviously the relevant people, whether this time tomorrow we do revert back to some restrictions in Greater Sydney, but we are still considering that," Berejiklian said.

"I just want to put everybody on notice that that is a possibility and that will depend on the health advice sent to us during the course of the day."

Following the increase of cases, the neighbouring state of Queensland further tightened its border restrictions on Saturday.

Anyone from the Northern Beaches will need an exemption to enter Queensland and get into 14-day mandatory hotel quarantine if their exemption could be granted.

Those from Greater Sydney or Central Coast of NSW who want to travel to Queensland need to be tested and self isolated until they receive their results.

The state of NSW currently accounts for 4,712 coronavirus cases and 53 deaths.

Australia has so far reported a total 28,094 cases and 908 fatalities.



Source: IANS