New South Wales has recorded 105 cases of Covid overnight, with 27 in the community throughout their contagious period.
Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian reiterated that this number must be close to zero before her team can even consider lifting lockdown restrictions, which were tightened on Saturday in an effort to curb the spread of the highly contagious Delta strain.
In an effort to ease the financial burden of the lockdown on small businesses, Ms Berejiklian has announced a $15,000 aid package.
Of the new cases, 76 have been linked to clusters in southwestern Sydney, with the virus spreading rampant among large family groups and household contacts.
But chief health officer Kerry Chant said cases are popping up all over the metropolis of Sydney and urged the public to consider that “anytime they leave the house they could come into contact with Covid”.
With the most recent cases, the current Sydney outbreak – which began on June 15 – has surpassed the number of cases recorded during the first wave between March and May 2020.
Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian urges people to stay at home unless absolutely necessary
Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said cases are popping up all over the metropolitan city of Sydney and urged the public to consider that ‘every time they leave the house they could come into contact with Covid’
During that outbreak, the entire nation spent six weeks in lockdown, and each state was subsequently subjected to further restrictions.
Ms Berejiklian introduced particularly strict restrictions on Saturday for residents of the LGAs of Fairfield, Liverpool and Canterbury.
The 810,000 people living in those regions were told not to leave their suburbs, even to work, unless they are employed in health care, aged care or emergency services until at least July 30.
All essential workers allowed to leave their suburbs to work are subject to the same restrictions previously in place, which is to receive a negative Covid test every three days.
“I don’t remember our state being challenged to such an extent,” Ms Berejiklian said. “None of these decisions were taken lightly.”
“We can’t get that curve down.”
The announcement sparked frenzied phone calls to authorities and confusion about other industries otherwise considered essential.
In response, Ms. Berejiklian’s team changed the criteria late Saturday night and expanded the parameters to include people who work in garden centers, bottle shops and factories.
Sydneysiders are free to exercise within 10km of their home during the lockdown
Expert modeling predicts Sydney could be locked up for months longer than expected as only 40 percent of residents actually stay at home
Delivery workers and people who work in supermarkets, newsagents or have to maintain utilities such as gas, electricity, waste management or water are also allowed to leave their closed suburbs to work.
There are still concerns about the lack of compliance with lockdown orders across Sydney as unprecedented numbers of excited residents gather outside to exercise.
Expert modeling predicts Sydney could be locked up for months longer than expected, as only 40 percent of residents actually stay at home.
Locals have already closed for three weeks with two more to go, but there are concerns that the outbreak will not be under control by July 30.
Last week’s number of new daily cases appeared to peak at 112 on July 12, with cases fluctuating between 65 and 97 in the four days after.
But hopes were dashed on Saturday when the state registered 111 new cases, followed by a second consecutive day of three-digit numbers with 105 new cases on Sunday.
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Construction sites in three LGAs in Sydney’s southwest are closed while the entire city is on lockdown
Pictured: Swimmers at Manly Beach on Sunday morning
Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian has repeatedly said the numbers will continue to “bounce” as contact tracers work to monitor the spread of the virus.
Modeling predicts that if 80 percent of Sydneysiders were compliant, the Delta variant’s case numbers would already be in single digits.
But if compliance fell to 70 percent, it would take until the end of September to get the outbreak under control.
Mikhail Prokopenko, director of the University of Sydney’s Center for Complex Systems, said Sydney’s social distancing was woefully inadequate.
“Our estimate shows that if only 40 percent of people stay at home that would not be enough for even a less transmissible variant, and for Delta it doesn’t even surface,” he told The Australian.
“If that trend continues, the incidence rates will not decrease, but will continue to grow and the lockdown will continue.”
All essential workers who are allowed to leave their suburbs to work are subject to the same restrictions previously in place of receiving a negative Covid test every three days
Pictured: Sydneysiders waiting for their takeaway coffee in Woollahra on Sunday morning
Professor Prokopenko said it is vital that people do less shopping each week, as well as other activities, such as exercising for more than an hour or catching up with friends.
These would have to drop to 10 percent of the city’s normal activity to have a chance of getting out of lockdown quickly.
He added that he was baffled by the repeated level of non-compliance with public health regulations imposed by underinvested state governments.
“Some people have a legitimate reason not to stay at home because they provide essential services,” said Professor Prokopenko.
“Maybe 30 percent do essential services and maybe the other 30 percent just isn’t up to the job.”
Sydneysiders arrived at Manly Beach early Sunday morning for a sunrise swim as their lockdown exercise