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NSW authorities scramble to find source of mystery COVID-19 cases in Wollongong and Sydney

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NSW health authorities are scrambling to source three COVID-19 cases diagnosed without an immediate link to Sydney’s Northern Beaches cluster.

One of the three COVID-19 cases diagnosed in NSW after 8pm on Monday lives in Wollongong on the state’s south coast, though they had recently visited Sydney. The others live in Sydney’s inner west and north.

Close-contact health alerts were subsequently issued on Tuesday afternoon for two Greek Orthodox churches in Wollongong on 27 December – St Nektarios Church and The Holy Cross Church.


Casual-contact alerts also apply for several venues at Figtree, including Figtree Grove Shopping Centre, Mona Vale and Wollongong.

NSW recorded three local COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Monday, all of which were connected to the 129-strong northern beaches cluster. But the three cases recorded after 8pm have left authorities stumped.

Those cases are under urgent investigation.

“We don’t want people to think we’re out of the woods, far from it,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters on Tuesday.

The new cases come as Sydney approaches an atypically subdued New Year’s Eve, with people across most of the city limited to outdoor gatherings of 50.

On the Northern Beaches, gatherings of five people will be permitted.

Ms Berejiklian implored residents in all parts of Sydney to demonstrate “personal responsibility” and stay COVID-safe on New Year’s Eve.

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Sydneysiders are mostly banned from watching the famous New Year’s Eve fireworks from the harbour after the foreshore was shut for the first time.

The state government is telling people to stay at home and watch the shortened seven-minute show at midnight on television.

Stay-at-home orders applying to Northern Beaches residents north of the Narrabeen Bridge will continue until at least 9 January. A lockdown for the peninsula’s southern zone will be in place until 2 January.

Northern Beaches mayor Michael Regan on Tuesday thanked locals for their patience and acknowledged lockdowns were hurting small businesses.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction’s restrictions on gathering limits.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

News and information is available in 63 languages at check the relevant guidelines for your state or territory: NSWVictoriaQueenslandWestern AustraliaSouth AustraliaNorthern TerritoryACTTasmania

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