Sydney residents are on tenterhooks and praying for a positive lockdown update after sustained high daily coronavirus cases forced the NSW Government to extend stay-at-home measures for at least another fortnight.
More than five million people in Greater Sydney are waiting for the daily infection rates to drop to show the lockdown is finally working, after 97 new cases were recorded in the 24 hours to 8pm on Tuesday.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Chief Health Office Kerry Chant are expected to provide a COVID-19 update at 11am AEST on Thursday. You can watch it LIVE in the video player above as soon as it’s available.
NSW Health COVID-19 update
Of those 97 new cases, 31 were circulating in the community while infectious.
This is the number that is disturbing authorities, with Premier Gladys Berejiklian saying that number needs to be close to zero before the lockdown can end.
Numbers continue to rise in southwest Sydney and a new 24-hour COVID testing clinic has now opened at Fairfield after people were forced to wait up to six hours in long queues at another venue.
There are now three testing sites in the area operating around the clock while other clinics will stay open until late at night.
Meanwhile, two of Sydney’s major hospitals are on high alert after a nurse and a patient were diagnosed with COVID-19.
A pregnant patient at Liverpool Hospital, in Sydney’s southwest, was diagnosed on Wednesday after undergoing a procedure.
The hospital cancelled elective surgery to deep clean the operating theatre and contact tracing is underway with close contacts – including staff – being tested and isolating for 14 days, NSW Health says.
A nurse who worked at Westmead Hospital in the COVID-19 ward has also tested positive to the virus but there were no cases linked to the health worker so far, the ABC reports.
Sydney lockdown update
On Wednesday, new health orders were introduced requiring essential workers to get tested every three days if they work outside the area.
The stay-at-home provisions for Greater Sydney had been scheduled to end on Friday, after three weeks of lockdown, but will now remain in place until at least July 30.
Berejiklian said she was left with no choice but to extend the lockdown of Greater Sydney and surrounds by at least two weeks given the extent of COVID-19 spread in the community.
The state’s schools will also continue with online learning with parents supervising their children’s school work at home.
NSW Health COVID hotspots
Commuters, shoppers and construction workers across Sydney have been placed on alert for COVID-19 after the list of venues exposed to the virus grew substantially overnight.
More than 30 venues were added to the NSW Health list late on Wednesday after a surge in local cases.
NSW COVID payments for Sydney lockdown residents
It comes after the state and federal governments on Tuesday revealed an extensive financial support package for workers and businesses.
The package included more than $17.5 million for key organisations that support the mental health of Australians, including Lifeline, the Kids Helpline, Headspace and beyondblue.
With outbreaks across Australia already prompting a 25 per cent increase to Lifeline’s helpline, chairman John Brogden says the money will help the service accommodate the surge.
“With a sudden rise in COVID-19 cases and subsequent lockdown for people in Greater Sydney, we know there will be an increasing number of people who will struggle with isolation, separation from family and heightened anxiety,” he said.
“We want to reassure every individual that we are here for you, 24/7 on 13 11 14.”