NSW Covid update: daily cases surge to 633 as Gladys Berejiklian dismisses calls to tighten lockdown rules

Premier blames small number of people for continuing spread, with 70% of local coronavirus transmission occurring in householdsCovid Australia daily stats updateFollow our live blog for latest Covid updatesNSW hotspots; NSW restrictions; border restrictionsVaccine rollout tracker; get our free news app; get our morning email briefingCovid transmission is surging across a locked-down New South Wales, with the state setting a new daily case record of 633, as well as three deaths, and the premier, Gladys Berejiklian, delivering a bleak warning that “we haven’t seen the worst of it”.Health authorities are particularly concerned about the movements of people while potentially infectious – just 94 of the new cases reported on Wednesday were isolating throughout their infectious period, with as many as 509 cases infectious in the community. Continue reading...

NSW Covid update: daily cases surge to 633 as Gladys Berejiklian dismisses calls to tighten lockdown rules

Covid transmission is surging across a locked-down New South Wales, with the state setting a new daily case record of 633, as well as three deaths, and the premier, Gladys Berejiklian, delivering a bleak warning that “we haven’t seen the worst of it”.

Health authorities are particularly concerned about the movements of people while potentially infectious – just 94 of the new cases reported on Wednesday were isolating throughout their infectious period, with as many as 509 cases infectious in the community.

Wednesday’s case numbers were a significant jump on the previous daily case record, set on Monday, when 478 cases were announced.

Western and south-west Sydney continue to be the epicentre of Sydney’s outbreak, with 550 of the new cases from this area. Authorities are particularly concerned about spread in the suburbs of Merrylands, Guildford, Auburn, Greenacre, Yagoona, St Marys and Strathfield.

Children not eligible for vaccines are also driving transmissions. Of the new cases, 63 were children aged nine and under, 104 were aged 10 to 19, and 170 were in their 20s.

Childcare continues to account for a significant number of transmissions in Sydney. The chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant, said she was “keen” to see vaccines be approved for children under 16.

“I firmly believe that we need to get in and vaccinate our 12-to-15-year-olds at the moment,” Chant said.

“We are watching internationally the evidence around younger children, but I think that given the transmission of Delta, it may well be that in future we do provide vaccines in the younger age groups ... I believe that we will be targeting school-aged children, particularly the high school children, very quickly because we know they do contribute to transmission.”

Berejiklian also warned the reproductive rate of Sydney’s Covid cases is 1.3, meaning that every person who has the virus is spreading it to about 1.3 people.

“We need that number to be below one,” Berejiklian said.

“That’s what will turn the corner, and until we hit that corner, we’re going to see case numbers rise and the way we stop case numbers rising is stopping mobility, stop leaving your home unless you absolutely have to.

“So what the data is telling us in the last few days is that we haven’t seen the worst of it. And the way that we stop this is by everybody staying at home.”

Authorities singled out household transmissions as a particularly concerning mode of transmission, with 70% of known cases over the last two weeks occurring between household members and people visiting other households.

Berejiklian shut down calls to tighten the current Covid restrictions across greater Sydney, insisting the cause of increasing spread was due to people not obeying rules, not the settings themselves.

“We know the settings we have in place are some of the harshest that Australia has ever been ... unfortunately it only takes a small number of people to do the wrong thing, to cause this amount of spread.”

Chant also dodged questions about whether she had been recommending tighter restrictions, insisting she and the premier “have a shared vision” of high vaccination coverage and very low levels of community transmission.

“I can’t comment any further than to say that the premier, in all my discussions with her, is absolutely committed to increasing vaccine coverage and getting low community transmission,” she said.

Staff from private hospitals across NSW are being redeployed to bolster the public system as it struggles to cope with the burgeoning Delta outbreak.

“Private hospital staff will help support the large-scale vaccination effort currently underway and support workforce demands in the NSW public health system,” the health department said on Wednesday evening.

“As a result, non-urgent elective surgery is being temporarily postponed at these private hospitals from Monday 23 August.”

Non-urgent elective surgery in public hospitals across greater Sydney was postponed from late July.

Police issued 727 penalty infringement notices in the latest 24-hour period, with more than 400 of those for people leaving their homes without a valid reason.

There were three further Covid deaths in the state, an unvaccinated man in his 60s from south-west Sydney who died in Liverpool hospital, and two men in their 70s from western Sydney who died at Nepean hospital. One had received one dose of vaccine, the other was unvaccinated.

Of the 633 new cases, 110 live in Canterbury Bankstown, 104 live in Cumberland, 87 live in Blacktown, 51 live in Liverpool, 55 live in Fairfield and 44 live in Penrith.

Western NSW recorded 23 new cases, with 17 in Dubbo. Berejiklian urged vigilance for anyone who had visited Wilcannia, which has now recorded three cases.

There are currently 462 people in NSW admitted to hospital with Covid, with 77 in intensive care and 25 on ventilation. Of the 77 people in intensive care, 66 have had no vaccine doses and 11 have had one dose.

The health minister, Brad Hazzard, reiterated that “obviously the health system in NSW is under a degree of stress”, noting increased workloads and staff in isolation at a number of hospitals. Nepean hospital has 39 cases of Covid, including spread between patients across different wards and staff.

There was also a new case recorded spreading among patients at St George hospital.