Two more regional areas in New South Wales will enter a seven-day snap lockdown, as the state recorded 1,351 new Covid cases and 12 deaths and some regional areas appeared to be getting on top of infections.
Details of the new lockdown in Albury and Lismore were yet to be published on the NSW Health website, but it means from 6pm on Thursday, those areas will be subject to similar restrictions as greater Sydney, including mask wearing outdoors, restrictions on movement and visitors, and closures on nonessential retail.
But the deputy premier, John Barilaro delivered welcome news to areas in the south and west of the state on Thursday.
Stay-at-home orders were lifted for Bega, Blayney, Bogan, Cabonne, Dungog, Forbes, Muswellbrook, Narrabri, Parkes, Singleton, Snowy Monaro and Upper Hunter local government areas (LGAs) from 1pm Thursday.
“I encourage everyone in those 12 LGAs which are coming out of lockdown to enjoy their freedoms in a responsible and Covid-safe way and I urge everyone to get vaccinated as soon as you can, so you can continue to enjoy freedoms when NSW reaches the 70% double-dose target,” Barilaro said.
“Unfortunately stay-at-home orders will apply to all people who live in the Albury and Lismore LGAs based on updated health advice,” he said.
The deputy chief health officer, Dr Marianne Gale, said two Covid cases in Albury, which appeared unrelated, plus a number of exposure sites, had prompted the decision to lock down the border city. The Lismore case involves a person who returned from Sydney and a local school exposure, also prompting swift action.
Other regions are also being urged to be vigilant. NSW Health’s ongoing sewage surveillance program has detected fragments of the virus at the Gunnedah, Inverell and Hunter Karuah sewage treatment plants, as well as in Coffs Harbour, Cowra, Young and Narooma.
After the 8pm Wednesday cut-off, a case was also identified in Glen Innes in the state’s north-west. It is still under investigation.
NSW recorded 1,351 new locally acquired cases of Covid-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm Wednesday. No new cases were acquired overseas, and 17 previously reported cases were excluded following further investigation.
The total number of coronavirus cases in NSW since the beginning of the pandemic is 48,152.
Twelve more people died of Covid-19. There was a range of ages: one person their 40s, one in their 50s, four in their 60s, two in their 70s, three in their 80s and one in their 90s.
Ten of the 12 were unvaccinated.
NSW is continuing to edge towards its 70% double vaccination target, with good levels of people turning out for their second shot. A total of 80.1% of the over-16 population has received a first dose of Covid-19 vaccine and 48.5% of the entire community over 16 are fully vaccinated.
The health minister, Brad Hazzard, acknowledged there was still a shortage of supply of Pfizer vaccines, particularly in the regions, but said there was plenty of AstraZeneca and he urged people to avail themselves of that.
There were also concerns about an outbreak in the Redfern towers, a major public housing complex in inner Sydney. Twelve people have tested positive to the virus out of the 630 residents.
Gale said there has been a lot of outreach prior to this outbreak, and two-thirds of the residents have had at least one dose of vaccine.
She said there were 330 Covid tests done yesterday, and there were teams on site offering advice on how to safely self-isolate, including providing masks, cleaning products, food and social support.
Residents who cannot safely isolate were being offered opportunities to move, she said.