Sydney records highest Covid numbers since pandemic started

Transmission spreads beyond Sydney and other coastal cities and towns to western New South Wales

Large families and household transmission in southwestern Sydney are thought to be factors in the city’s rising infection rate. Photograph: Getty

Large families and household transmission in southwestern Sydney are thought to be factors in the city’s rising infection rate. Photograph: Getty

 

Despite being in a citywide lockdown since June 26th, Sydney recorded 390 new cases of Covid-19 on Friday, its highest daily number since the pandemic started.

In a sign the surge in numbers is likely to continue in Australia’s largest city, about 100 of the new cases were out in the community while infectious and 250 are not linked to a known cluster or case.

New South Wales state premier Gladys Berejiklian said that given the thousands of cases in the past week, “unfortunately this trend will continue for at least the next few days”.

One in three of those infected within New South Wales in the past week is aged 19 or younger. Large families and household transmission in southwestern Sydney are thought to be factors.

Transmission has now spread beyond Sydney and other coastal cities and towns to western New South Wales, 44 per cent of which is classified as remote or very remote, with limited access to medical facilities.

About 12.8 per cent of the region’s population are Aboriginal, almost four times the national figure of 3.3 per cent. More than half the Aboriginal people in the area have chronic health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and kidney disease, making them more susceptible to serious illness or death if they contract the disease.

In northwest New South Wales, one of the most disadvantaged areas of the state, just 8 per cent of Aboriginals are vaccinated. Scott McLachlan, chief executive of the local health district, encouraged people to get tested and vaccinated.

“What we are seeing is community spread within the Aboriginal community,” he told ABC radio. “Now, that’s incredibly concerning – the last thing we want to see is some of our most vulnerable community members impacted with Covid-19 and particularly with this Delta strain.”

How many are vaccinated?

Nationally, about 25 per cent of people are fully vaccinated, with 46 per cent having had one dose. Australia is second last among the 38 members of the OECD – the world’s most developed nations – for coronavirus vaccinations, ahead of only New Zealand.

The Australian government’s Operation Covid Shield paper suggests vaccination of 80 per cent of the population aged 16 and over could be achieved by early December. Ms Berejiklian said restrictions in greater Sydney could be eased once vaccination rates reach 50 per cent.

Construction workers and trades people have been allowed to return to work in Sydney this week so long as they are vaccinated, but prime minister Scott Morrison has ruled out using federal laws to compel workers to get vaccinated.

“We do not have a mandatory vaccination programme. It is free and it is not mandatory. Businesses are encouraging their employees around the country to get vaccinated, as they should, as the government is, as all governments are – but the issue of mandatory vaccinations has been put in place in a very select group of sectors,” he said.