COVID creeps north along NSW coast with new case
Locals in the Port Stephens area are on high alert after a confirmed COVID-19 case in the state's Hunter Region.
Anyone who visited the Salamander Bay Shopping Centre on July 15 has been asked by the Hunter New England Local Health District to watch for COVID-19 symptoms and get tested if they start to suffer respiratory symptoms or a fever.
The case from Sydney also visited Windsor Castle Hotel in East Maitland between 6pm and 8pm on July 13, with other visitors in that time frame asked to be tested as soon as possible.
Locals in the general Port Stephens area with any COVID-19 symptoms should also get tested immediately, according to Dr David Durrheim, Public Health Controller for Hunter New England Health's COVID-19 response.
"Anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms such as fever, sore throat, cough or shortness of breath, is urged to get tested," Dr Durrheim said.
"Even those with mild symptoms such as fatigue, new muscle aches or pains, a change in taste or smell or a new runny nose are encouraged to arrange testing."
More staff have been sent to Tomaree Community Hospital's COVID-19 clinic to help keep up with testing numbers, while locals can be tested at Maitland Hospital's walk-in COVID-19 testing clinic between 9am to 4pm each day.
THAI ROCK CLUSTER GROWS, 13 NSW CASES
The number of COVID-19 cases linked to a western Sydney Thai restaurant has surged to 26 with two Sydney shopping centres shut down over virus fears.
Thirteen new cases of the disease were recorded in NSW to 8pm Monday, 10 of whom either dined at or were contacts of someone who dined at the Thai Rock Restaurant in Stockland, Wetherill Park.
Two cases from the Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral noted on Monday have also been confirmed as contacts of a diner from the restaurant.
This brings the total number of cases linked to the restaurant to 26.
Two of the new infections have been connected with the Crossroads Hotel cluster while one case was recorded in hotel quarantine.
The new cases come as NSW Health officials cordoned off areas at Cabramatta Plaza in western Sydney on Monday night and for inspection and cleaning after a positive case reportedly visited a doctor's surgery and pharmacy inside the centre.
It is not yet known whether the reported case is linked to the Crossroads Hotel cluster in the nearby suburb of Casula, which rose on Monday to 48 cases.
A shop in Carlingford Court in Sydney's northwest was deep cleaned overnight on Monday after a customer who visited Vanity Nails inside the centre between 9am to 10:30am on July 18 tested positive.
A statement from the shopping centre said the nail salon would be "thoroughly" disinfected and cleaning protocols for high touch surfaces and communal areas of Carlingford Court would increase "for the foreseeable future".
A new drive-through COVID-19 testing clinic is to be set up on Tuesday in the western Sydney suburb of Fairfield following "overwhelming" queues of locals waiting to be tested.
Fairfield City Mayor Frank Carbone said the free clinic at Endeavour Reserve in Fairfield West would run from 8:30am to 7pm on Tuesday and 8am to 7pm on Wednesday.
Mr Carbone said the clinic was set up in order to relieve pressure on COVID-19 testing clinics at Fairfield Hospital and the existing drive through clinic at Fairfield Showground and keep up with demand from locals.
BLM RALLY ORGANISER DISMISSES CRITICISM
The organiser of a Black Lives Matter rally planned for next week has dismissed criticism from an Indigenous Alice Springs councillor about the movement, saying the upcoming protest is focused on actions of police and prison officers, not violence perpetrated by other Indigenous people.
More than 4,000 people have indicated on social media they are attending or are interested in the protest planned for next Tuesday, despite pleas from authorities for people to avoid large gatherings.
Organiser Paddy Gibson said the protest is "is focused on the issue of lethal violence and neglect at the hands of police and prison officers, for which no one has ever been held accountable".
"We are particularly focused at this rally on the killing of David Dungay Jnr in circumstances very similar to those of George Floyd in the United States," he said.
That's despite criticism from Jacinta Price, who said the Black Lives Matter movement is "not interested" in the fact that "Aboriginal people are dying at a far greater rate at the hands of other Aboriginal people".
Mr Gibson did not directly comment on those concerns when contacted by The Daily Telegraph yesterday.
Asked if the Black Lives Matter movement was solely concerned with Aboriginal deaths in custody and actions of law enforcement, Mr Gibson said: "I can't speak for the Black Lives Matter movement in Australia and what the many thousands of people involved are concerned about".
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller has vowed to oppose the gathering in the Supreme Court, threatening fines against anyone breaching the health orders if it goes ahead.
"Do you want your protest to be the one that puts NSW back five or 10 years economically? Because that's exactly what could happen," he told Sky News.
"It is not a time to be selfish," Mr Fuller said.
In a statement, NSW Police said: "authorisation will not be given for this protest due to health and safety concerns associated with COVID-19".
Mr Gibson provided a COVID Safety Plan for the demonstration, which states that 30 volunteers will move through the crowd "requesting compliance with physical distancing regulations where reasonably practical". Attendees will be asked to register their details with the organisers. Protesters have been asked to wear masks, and hand sanitiser will be provided.
PREMIER'S WARNING OVER CHURCH CLUSTER
Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned on Monday that the state is at a "critical" point as a COVID church cluster grew and NSW recorded the highest number of new cases in three months.
Thousands of people in Sydney who have been in a COVID-19 outbreak locations have now been forced into self-isolation as the Premier refused to rule out further lockdowns.
"In a pandemic, you never say never to anything," she said "Please limit your exposure and that of your family. The next few weeks are absolutely critical."
NSW on Monday recorded 20 new cases of coronavirus in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday - the largest daily increase since April 19
Churchgoers at the Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral were last night urgently told to quarantine for two weeks after two additional cases were confirmed, while a cluster of cases linked to the Batemans Bay Soldiers Club has grown to eight.
The ACT government has advised its citizens to reconsider travel across the border.
"Think about staying local until we get a better idea of what is going on in NSW," ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said.
Worryingly, a person in their 30s is being treated for the virus in intensive care. Another patient in intensive care, a person in their 70s, has been placed on a ventilator.
NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant said it was a concern.
"I think it is a warning that even young people can end up in intensive care with COVID-19," Dr Chant said.
VICTORIA INQUIRY BLAMES HOTEL BUNGLES
The surge in coronavirus numbers came as a Victorian inquiry heard that it was possible every new case in that state is linked to its bungled hotel quarantine program.
"Information already available to the inquiry suggests the possibility of a link between many of the cases of coronavirus identified in the Victorian community in the past few weeks, and persons who were quarantined under the hotel quarantine program," counsel assisting Tony Neal QC, said.
"Comments made by the chief health officer to the media have suggested that it might even be that every case of COVID-19 in Victoria in recent weeks, could be sourced to the hotel quarantine program."
NSW Health has evidence a Melbourne freight worker is the source of the renewed outbreak in Sydney, which started at the Crossroads Hotel in south west Sydney. That cluster has now grown to 48 cases.
Dr Chant said it had "tenuous links" to a 16-case cluster centred on The Thai Rock Restaurant in nearby Wetherill Park, although the evidence in "not sufficient for us to establish a connection at this time".
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth said it was "critical" people self isolate if they have been in an area connected to a COVID-19 outbreak.
"If you are considered a contact of someone with COVID-19, you have been instructed to isolate by a public health official, do so," he said.
"If you hear on the media that you have been somewhere where there has been COVID-19 … (and) you should isolate, do so as well."
FALSE POSITIVES SEND COMMUNITIES SCRAMBLING
Meanwhile, four cases in the Sutherland Shire have been confirmed to be false positives.
Sutherland Shire Council Mayor Carmelo Pesce confirmed a patron at Hazelhurst Arts Centre in Gymea, and a Woolooware childcare worker at a council early education centre were false positives.
A tweet from NSW Justice confirmed a suspected case at Sutherland Courthouse on July 15 is a false positive, while sources indicate the parent of a Sutherland-Loftus under-14s rugby league player who played De La Salle on Sunday was also a false positive.
NSW Health has confirmed the court user suspected of having COVID-19 had a false positive result and was not infectious at the time they were in the court.— Justice NSW (@NSWJustice) July 20, 2020
Cronulla Junior Rugby League chairman Nathan Waugh stated NSW Health had confirmed no players were at risk after an investigation on Monday.
"I have received a phone call and an email confirmation from the deputy director at NSW Health (South Eastern Region) late this afternoon," Mr Waugh wrote on Facebook.
"She has advised upon completing their investigation into this case that no player is at risk of infection and all four teams involved will be immediately reinstated."
Players, parents, officials and spectators from the affected teams will no longer be required to isolate and get tested.
Originally published as COVID creeps north along NSW coast with new case