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NSW lockdown to be extended by four weeks

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian will announce a four-week extension of Greater Sydney’s lockdown in light of the state’s COVID-19 crisis.

Key points:
  • Restrictions were due to be lifted this Friday but COVID-19 cases have not yet trended downwards
  • A “singles bubble” is being considered by the NSW government
  • The Premier said earlier today she recognised the lockdown had been “difficult and frustrating”

The announcement is expected at her daily coronavirus briefing on Wednesday morning.

The metropolitan region and its surrounding areas — Greater Sydney, Wollongong, Blue Mountains and Central Coast — have been subjected to stay-at-home orders since June 26.

What began as a two-week lockdown at the end of last month for the over 5 million people living in Greater Sydney will now stretch until at least August 28.

Restrictions were due to be lifted on July 31 but it became clear last week when the state’s number of COVID-19 daily case numbers continued to grow that the Delta outbreak was not yet under control.

Ms Berejiklian and her crisis cabinet have spent the past two days putting together the blueprint for what life in the country’s most populous state will look like beyond Friday.

For workers the plan is likely to include rapid antigen testing — as opposed to the current nose swab, or polymerase chain reaction (PCR), tests used by COVID-19 clinics — as part of an expanded surveillance testing.

Rapid antigen testing has a significantly quicker turnaround, producing results in between 15 to 30 minutes, and it is currently employed by some parts of the private sector to screen for asymptomatic workers.

The government is also considering a “singles bubble”, similar to the one used during lockdown in Melbourne last year, which will allow people living on their own to nominate a designated person to visit their home.

The roadmap moving forward is also expected to include a comprehensive vaccination strategy with an aim to have every person receive their first jab by the end of August.

On Tuesday, Ms Berejiklian pleaded with the state for patience, acknowledging public health orders were “difficult and frustrating”.

She said she was concerned the virus was still spreading among essential workers and household contacts.

“Time and time again, cases are popping up in workplaces, amongst workers in those critical places of employment,” the Premier said.

“We are now seeing the virus becoming more prevalent in Western Sydney than south-west Sydney.”

Ms Berejiklian said she wanted to ensure she did not end the state’s lockdown prematurely. 

“We know we’ve put in the hard yards for five weeks and we don’t want to waste all the good work that we’ve done by opening too early and then having the virus spread again,” she said.

She said COVID-19 infection numbers could be much higher, but they were not where the government had hoped they would be when those stay-at-home orders were first introduced.

NSW recorded 172 locally acquired COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours.

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