Covid in Sydney: New restrictions introduced as outbreak grows

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The Australian state of Victoria has tightened border restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus through a growing outbreak in Sydney.

Sydney residents have been told to stay at home after a virus cluster finished Australia’s two-week run with no locally transmitted cases.

The cases were found on the city’s northern beaches, which were locked for five days on Saturday.

Since then, Sydney residents have left the city before Christmas.

Thousands have traveled from the New South Wales (NSW) city to neighboring Victoria in the past 24 hours, leading to calls for tighter border restrictions.

An emergency meeting of government officials was held in Victoria on Saturday evening to discuss a possible border closure with NSW.

An announcement is expected on Sunday. Local media reports that Victoria Police are preparing to set up border checkpoints with the help of the Australian Army.

The outbreak has also forced the organizers of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race to cancel the event for the first time in its history.

Image rightsEPAImage descriptionQueue for cars to go through Covid-19 tests in Sydney

The Northern Beaches outbreak in Sydney rose to 38 cases on Saturday, with 23 new cases recorded in the past 24 hours.

The new cluster emerged a few days before the holiday season and was a concern that travel restrictions could affect festive plans.

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As of Wednesday, Australia had only recorded one locally transmitted infection in the past 14 days.

The country, considered a relative success story of the pandemic, recorded a total of 28,128 infections and 908 deaths, according to a record by Johns Hopkins University.

What are the restrictions in Sydney?

The more than 250,000 people who live on Sydney’s northern beaches are prohibited from leaving their homes until Wednesday, except for work, exercise, essential shopping and compassionate reasons.

Those living in other parts of Sydney have been advised to avoid the area.

The New South Wales government has urged all local residents to wear masks and be on “high alert” in public areas such as supermarkets and churches.

Image rightsEPAImage descriptionAll Sydney residents have been told to stay home for the next few days

NSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian asked all Sydney residents to limit their activities for the next few days and stay at home “unless you really have to” go out.

“We’ll think about it [whether] We’re going back to some restrictions in the Greater Sydney area but we’re still thinking about it, “said Ms Berejiklian.

“I just want to make everyone aware that this is a possibility and depends on the health advice.”

The next five days were described as a “turning point” by epidemiologist Mary-Louise McLaws.

“We can only hope that it stays concentrated on the northern beaches, but if it goes all over Australia we need to streamline more,” she said.

Where did the outbreak come from?

Tests have shown the Northern Beaches outbreak resembles a strain of Covid-19 recently found in quarantined travelers.

But the authorities still don’t know how it got into the community.

They said it spread after a couple couldn’t be isolated at home while waiting for the results of the coronavirus test.

Her December 11th visit to a popular turf club and pub in the Northern Beaches suburb of Avalon has now been identified as a “Super Spreader” event.

However, it is unclear how the couple – who had not traveled overseas – got infected.

Since Australia closed its borders in March, most of its outbreaks have started with violations of the hotel quarantine system for returned international travelers.

Such cases led to Australia’s largest outbreak in Melbourne.

More on the Australian coronavirus outbreak:

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