6 May 2021

Restrictions for Greater Sydney after second Covid-19 case emerges

3:01 pm on 6 May 2021

The NSW government will move to re-introduce a raft of restrictions for Greater Sydney after the state recorded a second new locally-acquired Covid-19 case.

A couple enjoy the view of Sydney Harbour from Mrs Macquarie's Chair on May 3, 2021, as Australia's largest city is enveloped in a thick bank of hazardous bushfire smoke forcing authorities to scale back controlled forest burning nearby.

Sydney Harbour. Photo: AFP

Restrictions will apply until at least Monday and limit household guests to 20, make masks compulsory in indoor public venues and on public transport, and restrict aged care visitation to two people.

It comes after it emerged this afternoon that the wife of the first Covid-19 community case - a man in his 50s - had contracted the virus too.

The man from Sydney's eastern suburbs had not been overseas recently, and did not work in a hotel quarantine, border or health role, setting off alarms on how he contracted the virus in the community.

"Within two weeks, we'll know if the virus' spread is growing or not," said Professor Raina MacIntyre, an expert in global biosecurity and infectious disease from the University of NSW.

"It is worrying because it's unknown where this man acquired this infection. Who did they get infected from? That's the real question of interest."

MacIntyre believes the man's infection will probably be traced back to hotel quarantine, but wonders how many people would have contracted the virus to link the two.

NSW Health confirmed yesterday that the man has a higher viral load.

"That's really concerning," MacIntyre said.

"This person looks like he's shedding a high amount of virus."

The man travelled to shops throughout eastern, central and western Sydney over a three-day period.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian speaks

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it had to be assumed there were other cases. Photo: AFP

More positive cases expected

Deakin University's chair in epidemiology Professor Catherine Bennett said the discovery of a case in the community was concerning, but it was too early to tell if it was a potential cluster.

"It might be that the fact that we've only seen one person is a bit of a tip of the iceberg," she said.

Unlike other states that have locked down after one case, Bennett said New South Wales's more targeted approach is on the right track.

"They'll [NSW Health] then put appropriate measures in place," she said.

"I think it's not at this stage, a need for lockdown, even though it's clear evidence that they do have some community transmission happening."

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she was expecting more positive cases.

"If there is one case and there's no direct connection, we have to assume there's other cases," Ms Berejiklian said.

"Our response will be proportionate as it always has been in NSW."

The health department's investigation will be carried out on three fronts, MacIntyre said.

First, contact tracers will need to track and isolate anyone who may have been exposed.

So far about two dozen close contacts are in isolation, NSW Health said.

Second, sampling of the state's sewage system will be undertaken to flag areas where someone may have contracted the virus.

And finally, genomic sequencing will help identify the strain of the virus, narrowing down its source.

MacIntyre said the community could offset the risks of spreading the virus by being Covid safe, by social distancing, practising good hygiene and wearing masks.

Those who can should also get vaccinated, she said.

"The programme for 50-year-olds and up [to get vaccinated] has only started this week," she said.

"Unfortunately, we're limited by the supply of this vaccine, but I have no doubt New South Wales can ramp up."

Locations of interest in Sydney:

  • Event Cinemas at Bondi Junction Westfield 30/4/21 6pm-8pm local time
  • Figo Restaurant, Rushcutters Bay 30/4/21 8.45pm-11pm
  • Distric Brasserie, Sydney 30/4/21 11am-11.45am
  • HineSight Optometrist, Sofitel Sydney Wentworth 30/4/21 12pm-1pm
  • Barbetta, Paddington 30/4/21 1.30pm-2.30pm
  • Joe's Barbeques & Heating, Silverwater 1/5/21 1pm -1.45pm
  • Tucker Barbecues, Silverwater 1/5/21 1pm-1.45pm
  • Barbeques Galore, Annandale 1/5/21 2pm-3pm
  • Barbeques Galore, Casula 1/5/21 4pm-5pm
  • BP 1077 Botany Road, Mascot 1/5/21 4.30pm-5pm
  • The Meat Store, Bondi Junction 2/5/21 3pm-4pm
  • The Stadium Club, Moore Park 3/5/21 11.30am-12.30pm
  • Azure Cafe, Moore Park 3/5/21 12.30pm-1pm
  • The Royal Sydney Golf Club, Rose Bay 3/5/21 5.30pm-9pm
  • Rug Cleaning Repairs Hand Rug Wash Sydney, Brookvale 4/5/21 12.30pm-1pm
  • Alfresco Emporium, Collaroy 4/5/21 1pm-1.30pm
  • Smith Made, Balgowlah 4/5/21 2.30pm-2.45pm
  • Chemist Warehouse, Double Bay 4/5/21 3.45pm-4pm
  • Woolworths, Double Bay 4/5/21 4.05pm-4.15pm