Sydneysiders have repeatedly been told the west and southwest of the Harbour City are the new epicentre of the Indian Delta outbreak, with draconian restrictions brought in across eight Local Government Areas encompassing 94 suburbs.
But data from the past seven days shows the surge in Covid cases is ‘not just a western Sydney problem’ and health experts, along with fed-up residents, are calling for the same stringent lockdown measures – including mandatory masks even outdoors – to be brought in on the other side of the latte line.
It comes as NSW reported a record 239 locally acquired cases on Thursday, bringing the total number of infections during this latest outbreak to 2,810.
Worryingly, the source of almost 800 cases still remains a mystery to the state’s overrun contact tracing team.
While there are certainly more cases in Sydney’s west and south-west than in other areas, nowhere in the city seems to have escaped the latest outbreak unscathed with exposure sites popping up across Glebe, Bondi, Woolloomooloo and Pyrmont.
There were 104 infections recorded in the South Western Sydney Local Health District and a further 58 in the Western Sydney LHD on Thursday, but the skyrocketing cases in the city and southeast have gone under the radar.
‘Not just a western Sydney problem:’ The map of case numbers over the past seven days shows what’s happening on both sides of the latte line – and that there are far more cases in the CBD and east than most people realise
Sydney LHD, which encompasses the CBD and highly-populated inner west, recorded 51 infections on the same day.
In the South Eastern Sydney LHD, which includes Randwich, Woollahra and Waverley, there were 14 new transmissions and the Northern Sydney LHD saw three cases.
Five were in the Blue Mountains and four from Illawarra Shoalhaven.
Fairfield Mayor Frank Carbone, whose suburb is one of eight deemed ‘Covid red zones’ along with Canterbury-Bankstown, Liverpool, Cumberland, Blacktown, Georges River, Campbelltown and Parramatta, says the lack of uniformity in the restrictions is causing a divide.
He is calling on the Berejiklian government to introduce the same rules right across the Harbour City.
‘The community has been fighting this for six weeks, we would much rather do what we have to do, let’s get on with our life, let’s beat this virus together, but it needs to be across the whole of Sydney,’ he told A Current Affair.
One of the most enduring mantras of the pandemic is that ‘we are all in this together’ but for many families living in the west, the saying rings out as a hollow slogan (pictured, a woman enjoying winter sun at Bondi Beach on Thursday)
‘There’s no use eradicating the virus in half of Sydney and letting the virus spread in the other half of Sydney.’
The popular Mayor said the issue should be treated as a problem for all of Sydney, not just the west.
‘Seventy-one of today’s cases were outside the eight LGAs that are considered to be a hot spot and nobody is talking about that,’ he said.
‘We need the Premier and the cabinet to step up. At the moment, we’re getting policies that are dividing our community.’
Mr Carbone also pointed out there are tens of thousands of authorised workers leaving Fairfield and the other LGAs every single day, with tens of thousands more also coming into those LGAs.
‘We have done the tough yards but it’s not just a Fairfield problem,’ he said.
Residents across Sydney’s central and eastern suburbs (pictured at Bondi Beach on Thursday) have been accused of stretching the meaning of ‘essential exercise’ with beaches seeing sunseekers enjoying the unseasonably warm winter weather
While Sydney’s CBD and east enjoy winter days in the sunshine, those in Lakemba (pictured on Thursday waiting for Covid tests) as besieged by restrictions on work and movement
COVID CASES ACROSS SYDNEY
South Western Sydney Local Health District LHD
Total cases over seven days: 522
Rolling average: 75
Western Sydney LHD
Total cases over seven days: 310
Rolling average: 44
Total cases over seven days: 199
Rolling average: 28
South Eastern Sydney LHD
Total cases over seven days: 88
Rolling average: 13
Nepean Blue Mountains LHD
Total cases over seven days: 10
Rolling average: 1.5
Northern Sydney LHD
Total cases over seven days: 29
Rolling average: 4
Illawarra Shoalhaven LHD
Total cases over seven days: 7
Rolling average: 1
One of the most enduring mantras of the pandemic is that ‘we are all in this together’ but for many families living in the multi-cultural west, the saying rings out as a hollow slogan.
Those communities are now preparing themselves for a contingent of Australian military personnel to set up a ring fence around their neighbourhoods with extra police on the streets to enforce Covid compliance.
Defence Minister Peter Dutton confirmed on Thursday night 300 personnel would be brought into the city, with patrols starting Monday.
‘We would support the army if they are doing contact tracing and supporting operational measures,’ Mr Carbone said.
‘The army and police are here to help the community, not work against it, and we need to make sure that the messaging is clear on that and that the community supports this.’
Public health expert Bill Bowtell and adjunct professor at UNSW who is also calling for uniform restrictions to be introduced throughout Sydney, said the tightening of lockdown measures announced today and impending use of the military is simply too little too late.
‘Whatever you do today should have happened five and six weeks ago,’ he said.
‘The harsher measures taken when the virus is rampaging through Sydney as it is now, well, it’s a bit too late.
‘We have to do a lot better. As the mayor says, this is not just a Fairfield or Liverpool problem.
‘It’s a problem for all of Sydney and we have to have an all of Sydney approach to what we do to start bringing this virus under control.’
NSW contact tracers, once labelled the ‘gold standard’ by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, have been facing immense pressure to keep up with the relentless surge of cases and exposure sites.
Health officials revealed on Thursday they have not been able to pinpoint the origin of 779 Covid cases.
In fact, there are still 118 cases from the first two weeks of July that remain a complete mystery and are still under investigation.
Thursday’s spike in cases is the highest increase the state has recorded in one day in the entire pandemic
HOW SYDNEY’S TOUGHER LOCKDOWN RULES WILL AFFECT YOU
In the eight hotspot LGAs from 12am on Saturday, July 31 (Blacktown, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Liverpool and Parramatta):
Residents must wear a mask whenever leaving the home, including when they are outdoors.
The travel limit for essential exercise and shopping has been reduced to 5km from 10km.
Those in a ‘singles bubble’ with another person must follow the same travel restriction.
The penalty for breaking mask restrictions will increase from $200 to $500
The latest outbreak began on June 16 when an unvaccinated limo driver from Sydney’s eastern suburbs is thought to have contracted the virus while ferrying international flight crew.
Ms Berejiklian has faced criticism for refusing to impose stay-at-home orders in Greater Sydney until June 26, 10 days after the city’s outbreak began.
When asked by reporters on Thursday: ‘Will you admit that your strategy has failed, that you have failed?’
She replied: ‘I’m never going to suggest we get everything right.’
‘I don’t think any government around the world can say they get everything right because there’s no rulebook.
‘I’m the first one to admit at every stage of the process in the last 18 months, with the benefit of hindsight it would be wonderful to know the alternative course. We’ll never know that.’
NSW has called in the Australian Defence Force to enforce its hardcore lockdown on two million Sydneysiders after the state recorded its worst-ever Covid numbers
FIND THE LATEST EXPOSURE SITES NEAR YOU
Bondi locals are seen enjoying a break in the sun as police patrolled the area on Thursday (pictured)
Just a day after extending the city’s stay-at-home lockdown for another four weeks, Ms Berejiklian also announced two million Sydney residents living in the eight hotspot LGAs would have to wear a mask whenever they leave home.
‘If you step foot outside your household, you need to wear a mask at all times. It doesn’t matter where it is,’ she said.
‘We’re seeing too much evidence of people who are not wearing masks when they need to.’
Penalties for not wearing a face mask across the city meanwhile will increase from $200 to $500, with thousands of police officers deployed across Greater Sydney to enforce the tightened restrictions.
From midnight on Saturday morning, residents in those LGAs also cannot travel more than 5km from their home for essential shopping or for exercise.
‘The Delta strain is different to anything we have seen,’ Ms Berejiklian said.
‘I appreciate whilst all of us are under stress and pressure with the lock down, if you live in those eight local government areas, we are asking so much of you.’
Dr Norman Swan told Channel Ten’s The Project, that Sydney’s outbreak is now growing exponentially, according to analysis.
Dr Norman Swan (pictured on The Project) says Sydney’s outbreak is ‘on a knife-edge and it could slip out of control’
‘The only thing that works in this is social distancing and human behaviour change,’ he said.
‘Vaccination is coming albeit at a very slow rate… but it’s precarious. It’s on a knife-edge and it could slip out of control.’
‘We are not going to get there terribly quickly in Australia – maybe March of next year to 80 per cent.
‘We will be at 50-60 per cent by Christmas’.
Latest Covid exposure sites in NSW
Anyone who attended the following venues at the times listed is a close contact and must get tested and isolate for 14 days, regardless of the result.
Campsie Crazy Nonna 60 Charlotte Street. Saturday 24 July 12pm to 9pm. Sunday 25 July 12pm to 4pm
Croydon Ampol 404/410 Liverpool Road. Friday 23 July 10:20am to 10:35am
Camperdown 7-Eleven 2/10 Missenden Road. Sunday 25 July 9:45am to 10am. Tuesday 27 July 6:55am to 7:05am
Campsie Limra Indian Spices 286 Beamish Street. Monday 26 July 12:50pm to 1:10pm
Belfield Mancini’s Original Woodfired Pizza 21 Burwood Road. Friday 23 July 12pm to 9pm
Anyone who attended the following venues at the times listed is a casual contact who must immediately get tested and isolate until a negative result is received.
Liverpool Liverpool Post Office 244-250 Macquarie Street. Thursday 22 July 2:20pm to 2:35pm
Liverpool Black and White Pharmacy 337B Hume Highway. Saturday 24 July 1:35pm to 1:50pm
Edensor Park Fred’s One Stop Shopping 661-667 Smithfields Road. Saturday 24 July 11:30am to 11:55am
Blacktown Woolworths 17 Patrick Street. Friday 23 July 4:05pm to 4:30pm. Monday 26 July 5:00pm to 5:35pm
Greenacre 7-Eleven 301 Hume Highway & Boronia Road. Thursday 22 July 5am to 5:05am
North Strathfield Aldi 20 George Street. Saturday 24 July 10:30am to 11am
Bass Hill Aldi Bass Hill 753 Hume Highway. Monday 26 July 5:45pm to 6:30pm
Casula Maxi Chickens Casula Shopping Mall. Saturday 24 July 10:25am to 10:30am
Cabramatta Vt Building Materials 41 Chadderton Street. Friday 23 July 10:30am to 11am. Wednesday 21 July 8:50am to 9:15am
Lurnea MediAdvice Pharmacy Shop 1, 63 Hill Road. Saturday 24 July 1:10pm to 1:45pm
Horningsea Park Commonwealth Bank Carnes Hill Marketplace, Corner Kurrajong Road & Cowpasture Road. Wednesday 21 July 12:45pm to 1pm
Horningsea Park KFC Carnes Hill Carnes Hill Marketplace, Corner Kurrajong Road & Cowpasture Road. Wednesday 21 July 1:05pm to 1:20pm
Ingleburn Ingleburn Village Shopping Centre 100 Macquarie Street Wednesday 28 July 5pm to 5:10pm
Lilyfield Cafe Lobby 38 Frazer Street. Saturday 24 July 10:40am to 10:55am
Bella Vista Frangos Charcoal Chicken 29-31 Lexington Drive. Sunday 25 July 2pm to 2:10pm
Lidcombe Costco 17-21 Parramatta Road. Saturday 24 July 11:30am to 12:55pm
Blacktown Kabul Halal Butchery 1/60 Main Street. Saturday 24 July 11:20am to 11:30am
Casula King Ananas Casula Shopping Mall Saturday 24 July 10:15am to 10:25am
Kirrawee McDonalds 559-563 Princes Highway. Monday 26 July 6:20am to 6:30am
Canley Heights Canley Heights Pharmacy 227a Canley Vale Road. Saturday 24 July 12pm to 12:44pm
Canley Heights Dai Thanh Grocery 223B Canley Vale Road. Saturday 24 July 1:15pm to 1:20pm
Canley Heights Yung Lee Tropical Fruits 221 Canley Vale Road. Saturday 24 July 1pm to 1:15pm
Liverpool Udaya Spices 186 Macquarie Street. Saturday 24 July 5:35pm to 5:55pm
Bondi My Flower Man 32a Fletcher Street. Wednesday 21 July 9:15am to 9:25am
Wentworthville Woolworths 326/336 Great Western Highway. Sunday 25 July 12:30pm to 1:15pm
Parramatta Westfield Parramatta – Top Level 159-175 Church Street. Sunday 25 July 1:40pm to 2pm
Woolloomooloo Vizio Cafe 1/52 – 58 William Street. Monday 19 July 7am to 11am
Bass Hill Chemist Discount Centre Shop 33, Bass Hill Plaza, 753 Hume Highway. Tuesday 27 July 5pm to 5:30pm
Rooty Hill Fresh Food Market 56 Rooty Hill Road. Monday 26 July 12:50pm to 1:10pm
Bankstown Bakers Delight, Bankstown Central Shop 372, Stacey Street & North Terrace. Thursday 22 July 9:30am to 11am
Leppington Woolworths Emerald Hills Emerald Hills Shopping Village, 5 Emerald Hills Boulevard. Friday 23 July All day
Parramatta Kmart, Westfield Parramatta 159-175 Church Street. Sunday 25 July 1:45pm to 1:55pm
Emerald Hills Aldi 5 Emerald Hills Boulevarde. Saturday 24 July 3:50pm to 4:25pm
Parramatta Breadtop Shop 5029, 159-175 Church Street. Sunday 25 July 1:50pm to 2pm
Cabramatta Hungry Jacks 401 Cabramatta Road. Thursday 22 July 9:25am to 9:40am
Fairfield Heights Woolworths 186 The Boulevarde. Thursday 22 July 9:30pm to 9:40pm. Friday 23 July 9:25pm to 9:40pm. Sunday 25 July 3:40pm to 3:55pm
Prestons Fruit Central 2 Lyn Parade. Saturday 24 July 2pm to 2:30pm
Wollongong Coles Express 142-148 Corrimal Street. Sunday 25 July 6pm to 6:05pm
Casula Priceline, Casula Mall 38/1 Ingham Drive. Thursday 22 July 4:25pm to 4:45pm
Berala Woolworths 16 Woodburn Road. Thursday 22 July 8:10pm to 9:25pm
Leichhardt Bakers Delight Shop 20, Corner Marion Street and Flood Street. Saturday 24 July 10am to 11am
Bonnyrigg Woolworths 100 Bonnyrigg Avenue. Saturday 24 July 12pm to 12:30pm. Sunday 25 July 2:55pm to 3:05pm
Bonnyrigg Fruit World 100 Bonnyrigg Avenue. Saturday 24 July 12:40pm to 12:50pm
Bankstown Pharmacy 4 Less Bankstown Central, North Terrace Shop SP247. Sunday 25 July 7pm to 8pm
Edmondson Park Oporto Unit 2/1942 Camden Valley Way. Friday 23 July 5pm to 11:30pm
Pendle Hill 7-Eleven 217 Wentworth Avenue (Corner Bungaree Road). Sunday 25 July 2:50pm to 3pm
Cabramatta Woolworths 180 Railway Parade. Friday 23 July 5:45pm to 6pm
Casula Coles Kurrajong Road. Thursday 22 July 4:45pm to 5:15pm