COVID-19 restrictions reimposed in Sydney after new community cases

By MiNDFOOD, Reuters

COVID-19 restrictions reimposed in Sydney after new community cases
Coronavirus restrictions have been reimposed in Sydney after a second person in the community tested positive on Thursday. 

A day after it was revealed a man in his 50s from Sydney’s east had contracted COVID-19, authorities announced that the man’s wife had also tested positive.

The cases are the state’s first locally acquired infections in more than a month.

In response to the new cases, the NSW Government has re-introduced restrictions to Sydney as a “precautionary measure”.

The new restrictions will be in effect from 5pm on Thursday until 12am on Monday, and will apply to residents of Greater Sydney including Wollongong, Central Coast and the Blue Mountains.

The restrictions are as follows:

  • No more than 20 people allowed inside a home.
  • No singing or dancing permitted in indoor venues – except at weddings, where it’s recommended no more than 20 be allowed on the dance floor at a time.
  • No drinking while standing up at indoor venues.
  • Masks compulsory on public transport and in all public indoor venues.
  • Only two visitors allowed in aged care facilities and masks must be worn.

Australian authorities are racing to track the source of the new COVID infections.

Genome analysis has revealed the likely source of the man’s infection was a person who tested positive upon arrival in Australia from the US and went into special health accommodation.

However, there is still a missing link as it is unclear how the infection managed to spread to the eastern suburbs man, who had no known links to high-risk jobs or people.

NSW Health issued an alert naming more than a dozen venues across Sydney visited by the new cases in recent days, including restaurants, cafes and shopping centres.

Authorities also asked thousands of residents in the city’s innerwest to seek testing for any mild flu symptoms after fragments of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 were detected in the sewerage network used by several suburbs.

Tests on the infected man showed a higher viral load than typically seen in infected people, potentially increasing the chance that the man has spread the disease, the health department said. Considered to have been infectious since April 30, he was the first case reported in NSW since March 31.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet entered self-isolation on Thursday after he visited a restaurant at the same time as the infected person, classifying him as a close contact, his office said. Perottet, who attended a sitting of state parliament on Wednesday, has tested negative.

Speedy tracing systems, movement curbs and border restrictions have largely reined in the spread of COVID-19 in Australia, which has recorded 29,865 cases and 910 deaths since the pandemic began.

The federal government is currently under pressure to overturn a temporary travel ban on travellers, including its own citizens, from COVID-ravaged India. Australia has blocked all direct flights from the country until May 15.

A report in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on Thursday, citing unidentified sources, said at least two repatriation flights will be dispatched to India every week from the middle of this month to bring home around 9,000 Australians.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, however, said the situation would be reviewed after May 15.

“We are not going to commit to that at this point,” Morrison told radio station 3AW on Thursday.


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