Sydney lockdown extended, worries about 'COVID blind spot'

As Victoria and South Australia emerged from their respective lockdowns on Wednesday, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian was forced to announce a four-week extension to the lockdown currently in place for Greater Sydney and some regional areas.

NSW reported 177 local COVID cases on Wednesday, forcing the lockdown extension that will mean stay-at-home orders are now scheduled to be lifted on 28 August.

The NSW government also announced that it was introducing a single person bubble to allow people living alone to have contact with a friend or relative during lockdown.

“We appreciate what a stress it has been … for people doing the right thing (while) living by themselves,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“If you have been living by yourself, you are allowed to nominate one person that is allowed to visit you, but it has to be the same person. You cannot have a different person every day.

“You have to nominate the one person that is your buddy or is part of your singles bubble for the next four weeks to make sure that we do not spread the virus.”

Other parts of NSW, which have managed to contain the dangerous Delta variant of the virus, came out of lockdown as Ms Berejiklian was making her announcement about Sydney.

Read more: Vaccine rollout faces further delays

Stay-at-home orders for Orange City, Blayney Shire and Cabonne Shire were lifted on Wednesday with no further transmission of the virus detected in the region since the case notified on 20 July.

Meanwhile, leading aged care providers have voiced their concerns about the vaccine rollout to staff, concerned the government has no plan to ensure the workforce is vaccinated, especially for those providing home care.

Around 150,000 aged care workers provide care to approximately one million older Australians in their own home, presenting a significant COVID risk, which was raised as an ‘obvious blind spot’ weeks ago.

Read more: Warning for shoppers as COVID spreads in supermarkets

Home care provider RSL Lifecare told The Guardian that just 5 per cent of its 570-person home care workforce was fully vaccinated, with about 11 per cent having received their first shot.

“For the remaining staff to rapidly receive the vaccine, the current logistical processes need to be streamlined,” RSL LifeCare chief executive Graham Millett said. “The way to achieve this is to have clinics established onsite.

“Currently in NSW the wait at vaccination hubs is at least six weeks, even when they are being identified as a frontline worker.”

Read more: How pandemics make us consider our mortality

On Friday, the government’s vaccine taskforce head, Lieutenant General John Frewen, told a Senate committee that there was no specific plan for vaccinating home care workers.

It also seems that the states that have successfully controlled the Delta variant of the coronavirus are unlikely to share their vaccine doses with NSW as a result of the outbreak there.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall, who was celebrating his state coming out of lockdown, told ABC News Breakfast that it wasn’t necessary for his state to forgo its Pfizer shipments to help NSW.

“My understanding is that the federal government has been able to find 50,000 (Pfizer) doses and, of course, the ATAGI-changed protocols or advice is going to allow more people (to get) the AstraZeneca jab up there in New South Wales,” Mr Marshall said.

“I do think we need to stick to the national framework in terms of vaccination. We don’t know where the Delta variant is going to hit next. 

“We do have a national approach. We’re very keen to stick to it here in South Australia.”

Do you think the four-week lockdown extension will work in Sydney? Are you concerned about the virus spreading from Sydney to other parts of Australia? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?

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Written by Ben



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