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NSW equals worst COVID record: 239 fresh infections

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NSW has recorded 239 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases, but Health Minister Brad Hazzard says authorities won’t extend harsh  lockdown measures beyond specific local government areas.

At least 35 of the latest cases were infectious while in the community.

The daily tally of cases identified on Saturday equals the worst-ever record set last week.

As of 203 people hospitalised with COVID-19, 27 are being ventilated.

Australian Medical Association President Dr Omar Khorshid has called for travel limits within a five kilometre radius from home and outdoor mask wearing rules to be extended beyond eight local government areas.

“We’re trying to strike a balance and I think the balance is appropriate,” Mr Hazzard told ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday.

He said when Sydney locked down the northern beaches during an outbreak last year and the eastern suburbs during this outbreak there was a “high level of compliance”.

The lockdown in Sydney’s southwest had been more “challenging”, he said.

NSW recorded its 14th death in this current outbreak on Saturday, a man in his 60s who died at home in southwest Sydney.

Get your jab, any jab

Premier Gladys Berejiklian implored people to get any COVID vaccine available and to do so as soon as possible.

“The AstraZeneca is safe, health authorities have said under the current circumstances any adult, anyone over 18 should come forward to get the vaccine,” ms Berejiklian said.

“It doesn’t matter which one you are offered. Get vaccinated. One dose itself reduces your chance of spreading the virus but it also keeps you out of hospital.

“And we know that vaccination is working against this terrible Delta strain, we know it is effective, we know it is giving people out of hospital.”

“It is also reducing the chance of people spreading it to every member of their household. Can I please urge everybody to come forward and get vaccinated.”

When asked about his previous comments that Sydney families were turning up to hospitals with a COVID-19 infected relative who is “not alive but dead”, Mr Hazzard declined to detail the family’s “personal circumstances”.

“All I’ll say is that there was broad infection in the family and there was no effort to get to health authorities, as I understand it, until it was too late,” he said.

Mr Hazzard said there was a reluctance for large “refugee family groups” withe few-income earners to come forward to health authorities.

“They’ve suffered greatly in their own nations, in their own countries,” he said.

“What we are trying to do is tell them, if you have got any symptoms at all or have been in contact with positive cases, please come forward to health. Health is only there to look after you.”

Elective surgeries suspended

The risk of COVID-positive patients coming into hospital and sending hundreds of health workers into isolation has led the state to suspend non-urgent elective surgery.

Mr Hazzard said on Saturday a number of procedures will be dealt with by the private health system instead.

Greater Sydney and surrounding regions are in lockdown until at least August 28, as health authorities battle to contain a outbreak of the virulent Delta strain.

Saturday marked the return to work for the construction sector after a fortnight-long enforced break, with work allowed to resume on non-occupied sites provided COVID-safe plans are in force.

But the sector cannot call on 68,000 workers – or 42 per cent of the workforce – from eight council areas worst-hit by the city’s coronavirus outbreak.

The state’s workplace safety regulator says construction sites should expect a visit to ensure they’re complying with public health orders.

Meanwhile a threatened anti-lockdown protest in central Sydney failed to eventuate on Saturday.

Police set up an exclusion zone around the city between 9am and 3pm after warning taxi and rideshare companies they would face fines of up to half a million dollars for transporting passengers into the CBD.

-with AAP



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