Australia COVID news LIVE: Sydney braces for weeks of lockdown; Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine distribution brought forward

Australia COVID news LIVE: Sydney braces for weeks of lockdown; Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine distribution brought forward

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Key posts

  • Rapid tests to be deployed to south-west Sydney
  • Latest NSW Health exposure sites span Mosman, Miranda, Mt Druitt
  • Good morning
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Shellharbour – with no COVID cases – questions why it’s in lockdown

There’s one local government area of greater Sydney questioning why it’s in lockdown today: Shellharbour, 90 minutes south of the capital, hasn’t had any reported COVID-19 cases or traces of the virus in its sewage.

For Shellharbour mayor Marianne Saliba, the NSW government’s original decision to include Shellharbour in the lockdown, and not Kiama, the LGA directly to its south – which also has had no cases – makes no sense.

About 75 per cent of Kiama’s residents visit the Stockland shopping centre in Shellharbour each week. And traffic goes south, too. Visitors from the Shellharbour postcode bring the most business to Kiama out of all.

Marianne Saliba, the mayor of Shellharbour, which is part of the Greater Sydney lockdown.Credit:James Brickwood

In a letter to Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Health Minister Brad Hazzard and others this week, Cr Saliba asked for an explanation regarding the “absolute shemozzle” that surrounded Shellharbour’s inclusion in the Greater Sydney lockdown.

With no cases reported in Shellharbour again this week, residents vented their anger on social media. One asked why the government didn’t “stop people from Sydney from coming down the M1 and allow residents to carry on as usual”.

After hearing yesterday that the Premier had toughened lockdown rules, taekwondo grandmaster Robert Cooley asked: “Can you see my zen fading?”

But a spokesperson for NSW Health said the decision to continue to include Shellharbour recognised that even in lockdown, essential workers travelled across Greater Sydney and areas adjacent to it, including the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour, for work, education and social reasons.

Rapid tests to be deployed to south-west Sydney

Rapid testing will be deployed in Sydney’s south-west in order to extinguish any unrecognised transmission of COVID-19.

Three local government areas – Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown and Liverpool – were singled out as major areas of concern this week but the number of swabs collected in the city’s south-west was vastly below that in the east.

More than 42,000 people across NSW came forward for testing on Thursday but Premier Gladys Berejiklian yesterday said that number needed to go higher. Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said people in suburbs such as Kareela, Sylvania, Hurstville and Maroubra needed to stay particularly vigilant and come forward.

SydPath testing staff members carrying out COVID-19 tests at the Fairfield Showground.Credit:Kate Geraghty

A spokesperson for NSW Health said rapid PCR tests will be available to “provide the quickest possible answer” and aid investigation to identify high priority cases where there is ongoing transmission. The tests will complement existing testing programs.

“Every hour matters and rapid testing is another tool to help us tackle the transmissibility of the Delta variant,” a NSW spokesperson said.

Most nasopharyngeal PCR tests can take up to 24 hours to return results but rapid tests can be used onsite and return results in 20 minutes.

Latest NSW Health exposure sites span Mosman, Miranda, Mt Druitt

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian yesterday revealed the number of people in strict isolation after being designated a close contact had doubled overnight, from 7000 to 14,000, and case numbers were expected to rise.

The NSW Health list of exposure sites has ballooned accordingly. The following venues are the latest to be added – they were published at 9.30pm yesterday.

If you were at the following places at the set times you are a close contact and must strictly isolate for 14 days:

  • Oporto at Westfield Burwood on Sunday July 4 , between 1pm and 1.05pm
  • IKEA in Tempe on Tuesday July 6, between 10am and 9pm
  • Terry White Chemmart in Revesby on Tuesday July 6, between 8am and 3pm
  • Speed Medical Practice in Liverpool on Wednesday July 7, between 11.15am and 11.45am
  • Decode Group Construction Excavation site on Parramatta Road, Homebush on Wednesday July 7, between 7am and 3pm
  • St Andrews Pharmacy on Ballantrae Drive, St Andrews on Wednesday July 7, between 8.30am and 3.30pm
  • Wetherill Park Medical Centre at Stockland Shopping Centre on Wednesday July 7, between 1.45pm and 2.30pm

There were a further 21 exposure sites where anyone who attended is considered a casual contact who must immediately get tested and isolate until they receive a negative result.

They include several furniture stores in Campbelltown and the Westfield Burwood shopping centre last Sunday afternoon, as well as locations spanning Mosman, Maroubra, Mt Druitt and Miranda. The government has urged the public to regularly check those locations on the NSW Health website here.

Good morning

Good morning and welcome to today’s coronavirus news live blog. My name is Natassia Chrysanthos and I’ll be here to bring you news of any developments in the current COVID-19 outbreak until early afternoon.

In the meantime, these were the key headlines yesterday:

  • NSW recorded 44 new local cases of COVID-19, including 27 people who were infectious in the community, as Premier Gladys Berejiklian foreshadowed stay-at-home orders could be extended for a second time beyond Friday, July 16.
  • Restrictions for greater Sydney residents were tightened at 5pm yesterday, including limiting outdoor exercise to two people within 10 kilometres of the home and mandating only one person from each household can go out to do the shopping.
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison promised Pfizer vaccine shipments will be brought forward within weeks, as he ruled out a return of JobKeeper and confirmed South Australia would trial home quarantine for returned travellers.
  • A new advertising campaign for the nation’s vaccine rollout will begin on Sunday.
  • And Melbourne office workers celebrated the removal of restrictions to wear masks at work in a measure businesses hope will see more people return to the CBD.
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