Areas in northern New South Wales, including Byron Bay, have been put into a snap one-week lockdown after a man infected with COVID-19 visited the region.
New restrictions were imposed upon Byron Shire, Richmond Valley, Lismore, and Ballina Shire from 6pm on Monday, with residents ordered to stay at home unless there is a reasonable excuse to leave.
“People still can have one visitor at one time to fulfil carers’ responsibilities or provide care or assistance, or for compassionate reasons, including where two people are in a relationship but do not live together,” NSW Health said in a statement.
Byron Shire Mayor Michael Lyon told SBS News the positive case was in the community looking at real estate for four days while potentially infectious.
“It’s disappointing – you half expect it in a pandemic, you know that these things can happen, but when it’s through sheer stupidity and negligence of someone involved, it just makes it really annoying and frustrating,” he said. “So many people’s lives and livelihoods depend on this.”
Tamworth was also placed into a one-week lockdown at 5pm Monday after a woman travelled to the region from Newcastle with the virus.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said the woman arrived in Tamworth on 5 August and was not aware she had the virus. She is now isolating in Newcastle.
No cases of COVID-19 have been identified yet in the New England city but a number of exposure sites have been confirmed.
The list of exposure sites includes the Inland Cafe and Tudor Hotel.
NSW recorded 283 new locally-acquired COVID-19 cases and one death on Monday.
A woman in her 90s with COVID-19 who was in palliative care died overnight, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Monday morning.
“Our deepest heartfelt condolences to her loved ones, all deaths are horrible during this time,” she said.
Ms Berejiklian urged those in the Canterbury-Bankstown local government area and surrounding suburbs to remain vigilant, as it remains “the epicentre of the virus in NSW and Sydney”.
Of the new cases reported on Monday, at least 106 were in the community during their infectious period and the isolation states of 71 remains under investigation.
Vaccine rollout ramped up
Meanwhile, thousands of Year 12 students from the eight LGAs in western and southwestern Sydney will start being vaccinated at Sydney Olympic Park on Monday.
Ms Berejiklian said the state government was considering opening more hubs.
“We are increasing the points of access as fast as we can,” she said.
“Once we reach 70 per cent vaccination rates, we’ll be talking about hospitalisations instead of cases.”
The premier said she wanted to see more essential workers in the eight LGAs vaccinated.
“We have confidence, once we get the jabs up, we will have the confidence to open up – depending on vaccination rates and where the cases are,” she said.
The state government has a goal of administering six million doses by the end of August. About 4.5 million doses have been administered so far.
The ICU director at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Dr Richard Totaro, also urged people to get vaccinated, saying it would ease the burden on hospitals.
“The striking thing is that there is no one in the ICU after having had two vaccines,” he said.
On Sunday, NSW Health vaccinated almost 2,000 supermarket and food distribution workers with AstraZeneca at Sydney Olympic Park.
Ms Berejiklian said there were also trying to get more disability workers vaccinated.
“While you have authorised workers that have high rates of non-vaccination, that is a risk to all of us,” she said.
There were COVID-19 patients 349 in hospital as of Monday, with 67 people in intensive care. A total of 133,000 COVID-19 tests were conducted on Sunday.
With Catalina Florez.