COVID-19: NSW Update – Northern Beaches Cluster swells to – 28 cases
At the NSW Premier’s press conference at 11 am today, Gladys Berejiklian announced 10 new cases bringing the Northern Beaches cluster to a total of 28.
The outbreak is centred on 2 venues, the Avalon Bowling Club, and the Avalon RSL on the 13 December.
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Seeding outside northern beaches
There has been potential seeding outside the Avalon and Northern Beaches area, as people attending the venues came from and returned to other areas. There is already one example of someone who tested positive after travelling to Queensland, but has since returned to NSW.
The premier said that the current outbreak is serious and we need to get on top of this outbreak, otherwise it could wreck Christmas. People in NSW should not be complacent, and should wear masks in public, places of worship, shops and on public transport and other high risk areas across greater Sydney
State border restrictions
The Premier hopes that other states will respond with a ‘proportionate response’. She means as they have done in South Australia, only people who have visited the Northern Beaches within a prescribed time should be excluded from travel, or required to serve time in quarantine.
States are likely to update their restriction on travel from NSW as a result of announcements made at today’s press conference.
You can visit links to updated restrictions on state borders in this recent post.
NSW Health Advice updates
The premier reported that updates on venues are delivered in realtime – we see them on the NSW Health website as she gets the reports. However, reports on the number of positive cases will be given once a day at 11am to maintain consistency.
Check NSW website for close contact and for casual contact information and for advice on if you should be testedx
Van Driver update
The case of transmission to a Van driver transporting flight staff has been linked to a US strain via genomic testing. Fortunately there have been no further cases linked to that driver reported.
International Air Crew – police supervised quarantine in 2 hotels from next Tuesday
From Tuesday 22 December all international aircrew will be housed in two quarantine hotels located close to Sydney Airport.
Up until now, each airline has has their own rules, and has housed the several hundred international aircrew arriving in Sydney each day at around 25 hotels.
Some airline crew breached protocols in NSW a few weekends ago. Fortunately there were no consequences as all involved tested negative. These breaches were notified to police, and made officials seek a better solution to the aircrew quarantine issue.
Health authorities agree that the policy regime in place for air crew is sound. The issue has been compliance, hence the move to a limited number or police supervised hotel quarantine venues. It is hoped that this will assist aircrew with compliance.
Negotiations around this issue have been conducted between state and federal governments in liaison with around 90 international airlines. The negotiations have been delicate, balancing the needs of the airlines, with the wish to continue international flights to repatriate Australians and to transport cargo, and to protect the safety of Australians.
Rates of COVID-19 infection in returning travelers have been increasing over the last few weeks, reflecting the increased rates across the world, particularly in Britain, Europe, and the USA. This poses a greater risk of infection in Australia, so it is important to plug these gaps in compliance.
What we keep learning is that if their is a chink in the protocols to protect us from the COVID-19 virus, like a lack of external supervision on aircrew quarantine, it will come back to bite us – every time.
While life is not easy for aircrew in the age of COVID-19, compliance with protocols needs to be enforced.
I view this latest tightening of supervision very positively, and wish that it had happened a while ago.
We still don’t know where or how patient ‘zero’ caused the outbreak in the Northern Beaches – but if it is quickly contained and has plugged a chink in our armor, that is a good thing.
I just hope it doesn’t fuck up my or anyone else’s Christmas travel plans.