Covid-19 coronavirus: NSW records 44 new community cases, tightens lockdown rules

New South Wales has recorded 44 new locally acquired cases overnight.

That’s the highest daily number so far in the Sydney outbreak, after yesterday’s record of 38.

Of these locally acquired cases, 35 are linked to a known case or cluster – 25 are household contacts and 10 are close contacts – and the source of infection for nine cases remains under investigation.

“Regrettably, 29 of those were either partially or fully exposed to the community and that is the number that is really concerning us,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

Berejiklian announced tougher restrictions this afternoon as she warned that the state wouldn’t end lockdown until cases “get to zero or close to zero”.

She said today’s record number was “the opposite of where we need or want the numbers to trend”.

“No state or nation or any country on the planet can live with the Delta variant when our vaccination rates are so low,” she said.

“If we choose to live with this while the rates of vaccinations are at 9 per cent, we will see thousands and thousands of hospitalisations and deaths.”

That means “until we get to zero or close to zero, we cannot ease restrictions”, and “in fact, based on the health advice, NSW will be further tightening restrictions in those areas that already have stay-at-home orders”.

Outdoor exercise has been reduced from 10 people to two people, and only within 10km of home.

Only one person is allowed to leave home for essential shopping except under “exceptional circumstances”.

“Browsing is not allowed,” Berejiklian said.

“Whether you are in a supermarket or anywhere else buying essential items, you have to think about before you leave the home, can I get it online? Do I need to leave the house to go shopping?”

Funerals will also be reduced to 10 people.

Berejiklian said it was a “heartbreaking” decision. “I apologise in advance to all those families going through such a difficult time but unfortunately, we have no option,” she said.

The new rules will take effect from 5pm today.

Berejiklian said NSW might not exit lockdown next Friday.

“NSW is facing the biggest challenge we have faced since the pandemic started and I don’t say that lightly,” she said.

“And unless there is a dramatic change, unless there is a dramatic turnaround in the numbers, I can’t see how we would be in a position to ease restrictions by next Friday, and that is why all of us need to work together.”

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