What and when will shut NSW down?

The Guardian with some good material:

Coronavirus cases in New South Wales will need to continue rising at their current rates until at least the middle of next week before the government will consider further tightening social restrictions, public health experts have said.

They argue the state’s capacity to rapidly respond to new cases has not yet been overwhelmed.

As the cluster linked to the Crossroads Hotel in Sydney’s south-west grew to 40 cases on Thursday, the NSW chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant, would not be drawn on specifics in relation to potential further restrictions.

But she stressed authorities were not complacent about the challenge of “mopping up” seeding of the virus from the current clusters and people who had returned from Victoria.

“I cannot stress the criticality of the current time,” Chant said when announcing contact tracers would begin re-interviewing Covid-19 positive cases who weren’t able to be linked to a source of transmission based on their first interview.

“Obviously we are concerned when we find cases that can’t be linked back because it does indicate we have missed a chain.”

Chant also announced that in addition to genomic testing – which allowed authorities to confirm the “patient zero” of Sydney’s latest outbreak had come from Melbourne – sewage analysis would be used to detect the virus in areas of Sydney previously thought Covid-19-free.

There were 15 new cases announced in NSW on Thursday morning, 10 of which were community transmissions, with six linked to the Crossroads Hotel. At least 21 of the 40-plus cases in the cluster were hotel patrons, with onward transmission occurring at nearby gyms and at restaurants as far away as Brighton-Le-Sands, 25km east of the hotel.

The NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, said on Wednesday that NSW would consider “further restrictions” but not lockdowns for “any activity which is high risk”.

It’s eerily similar denial to VIC one month ago. To wit, at the ABC:

As Victoria’s active coronavirus cases soared past 1,800 on Tuesday, Premier Daniel Andrews and Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton issued warnings that further restrictions could be imposed on Melbourne residents.

Neither went into detail about how the additional restrictions could work, but on Tuesday Professor Sutton said nothing was off the table if transmission rates of the virus did not reduce.

Metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire are currently under Stage 3 rules, and on Monday Mr Andrews said: “If you don’t want a Stage 4, if you don’t want the lockdown to last a moment longer, then please follow the rules.”

So, what could a possible Stage 4 look like?

While Professor Sutton said “we can’t rule anything out”, he quickly clarified his comments.

“We would do the minimum required, because we know how much of an imposition it is on businesses and people’s lives. But if it’s required to reduce transmission, then it has to be in play,” he said.

And more:

Locked-down Victorians will be fined $1652 for travelling out of their neighbourhood to exercise, under a strict new coronavirus regime.

In a significant shift, the state government has issued clarified advice which explicitly limits where people can pursue outdoor recreational activities such as walking, jogging, cycling, playing golf and fishing.

When metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire moved back to stage three restrictions last week, Premier Daniel Andrews reassured people they would still be free to travel within the lockdown zone for exercise or recreational activities.

Asked if residents could leave their local government area to fish, play golf, or surf, the Premier said it was allowed under the rules.

“There is not a local government requirement but it’s got to be in metropolitan Melbourne,” he said.

NSW remains the test case for suppression strategy. If it fails we’ll find ourselves with no virus policy at all and calls for elimination will justifiably explode.

David Llewellyn-Smith
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