NSW has recorded seven new local cases of COVID-19 — all linked to the northern beaches outbreak.
- Authorities are urging people to stick to the 14-day isolation, with cases developing around day 10 or 11
- The Avalon cluster has reached 122 confirmed COVID-19 cases
- NSW Health has conducted 4,010,715 tests since the start of the pandemic
Premier Gladys Berejiklian is urging people to continue to come forward for testing after numbers dropped to 24,000 in the latest reporting period.
The previous period saw 39,133 tests during a week of record-testing levels.
NSW has now reached more than 4 million tests since the coronavirus outbreak began.
Ms Berejiklian said six cases had been confirmed as part of the Avalon cluster, five of whom were already in isolation.
The seventh case is under investigation but is a firefighter who attended the Belrose Hotel, which has already been flagged as a venue under alert.
The Avalon cluster now numbers 122 cases.
She said a number of the cases had been diagnosed late in their isolation, at around day 10 or 11.
“Those positive results came up towards the end of their isolation period which demonstrates how important it is for that full 14 days to be respected,” she said.
The latest cases come as the northern beaches returns to pre-Christmas restrictions and stay-at-home orders.
Ms Berejiklian thanked northern beaches residents for their patience, with the latest orders to run until at least midnight on December 30.
“I appreciate frustration levels are increasing as we get closer to New Year’s Eve and days we stay at home increase,” she said.
“We hope to have some clear information for everybody tomorrow or, at the latest, the day after on New Year’s Eve and [what] the next weeks will look like,
including [for] those communities on the Northern Beaches.”
Hunt for Belrose Hotel ‘missing link’
Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said the hunt was on for a “missing link” involving cases from the Belrose Hotel, a suburb to the south-west of the main northern beaches region.
A worker at the hotel who tested positive on December 23, had been found to have had an infection dating back to December 10.
Another case attended the bottle shop at the hotel on December 17, when the other worker was not present.
The firefighter attended the hotel on December 11 from 12:00pm to 6:00pm, again when the worker was not present.
Anyone who was at the hotel in December is being asked to isolate and get tested.
Dr Chant said serological testing had linked the Belrose cases with the wider Avalon cluster.
“We’re obviously doing some work to cross-check whether anyone attends the Belrose and also the [Avalon] RSL,” she said.
“We’re also asking the community come forward for testing to help us and find these missing links but at the moment, I do not want to speculate.”
Dr Chant also said another case had been linked to the Rose of Australia hotel in Erskineville in inner-Sydney.
The case will be reported in tomorrow’s figures as it was confirmed after the 8:00pm deadline yesterday.
“Again I’m using this as an illustration why the 14 days is so critical,” she said.
“We are seeing people come forward who develop symptoms … 10 days or so after the exposure, right up to that 14 days. So please stay in the isolation for that 14 days.”
An infected person was at the venue on December 15 between 7:00pm and 9:00pm.
Dr Chant also said testing continued around the December 21 flight from Sydney to Griffith, on which an infected passenger travelled.
Of the 28 passengers and one flight attendant, 19 results were negative and the rest are pending.
Health authorities said there were no public health orders stopping beaches across Greater Sydney, including the norther beaches, from being open.
But NSW Health said physical distancing should still apply and for people within the northern beaches, limits applied to how many people were allowed to gather at the beach.
In the northern area of the northern beaches, five people can gather for exercise or recreation, while that number increased to 10 for those in the southern zone of the northern beaches.
Councils all along the NSW coast, including Greater Sydney and Northern Beaches, should be aware that there are no Health Orders stopping beaches being open for swimming, exercise or recreation.
People from outside the northern beaches are not allowed to swim at beaches in the region.