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‘Work together as a team’: NSW’s local virus cases drop to 170

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NSW’s new local coronavirus case have dropped to 170 – but the number of infectious people in the community remains stubbornly high.

Of Friday’s cases, 52 spent at least part of their infectious period in the community. The isolation status of a further 53 is yet to be determined.

“Obviously today’s number is considerably less than yesterday but don’t assume it will not be back up tomorrow because while there are so many infectious in the community, we expect to see those numbers bounce around,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

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“What we do need is not just the stabilisation but, of course, the numbers to go down.”

Friday’s update came after a grim record of 239 local COVID infections on Thursday, and two more fatalities. There were no new deaths to report on Friday, and NSW’s toll from its current outbreak remains at 13.

It also came as NSW police began checking homes for people who shouldn’t be there and targeting businesses that are breaching public health orders.

Defence personnel will be on the ground in Sydney from Monday to help enforce the lockdown orders.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said there were high levels of compliance with lockdown rules in the target areas. But he said police had more than 2000 premises to keep checks on.

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“This morning, [members did] a COVID compliance check, [and found a] young man who was COVID positive was out of the house and he had gone to work on a building site,” he said.

“That sort of behaviour is exactly why we need strong health orders, law enforcement and defence.”

Mr Fuller also urged anyone considering heading into central Sydney for a potential lockdown protest to stay home instead.

“If you do, you will be met by up to 1000 police who will be ready to deal with you,” he said.

Chief health officer Kerry Chant said she was not aware of any COVID cases emerging from last Saturday’s lockdown rally. But, she said, many people might not disclose they had been at the protest.

NSW Health and police are working to determine if one person subsequently diagnosed with COVID did attend last week’s rally. They would have been infectious at the time.

“I am totally committed to the fact that we need to have low tolerance for where people are flagrantly breaking the rules. This is too much of a severe disease, too serious a situation to be in, to have people knowingly going out when they are positive,” she said.

“It just is so thoughtless, inconsiderate, and the impact on others so great.”

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Ms Berejiklian said NSW had administered 3.6 million shots of virus vaccines – but renewed her plea for more people to line up for a dose.

“It’s really important for us to get as many jabs in arms as possible because more jabs in arms means more freedom for all of us. And the quicker we get vaccinated, the quicker we can live more freely,” she said.

A new vaccine centre will open at Qudos Bank Arena at Sydney Olympic Park from August 9.

It will initially be for about 20,000 students in the eight Sydney local government areas that are of most concern in the escalating COVID outbreak. Once they are vaccinated, the centre will become a mass hub.

“We are setting them up all over the place, we have our GPs up and running, pharmacists up and running. We have a good health advice that says anybody can come forward, so come on, greater Sydney, I’m appealing for all of us to work together as a team,” Ms Berejiklian said.

There now now been 2980 local virus cases in NSW, since the Bondi outbreak emerged in mid-June.

The state has 187 COVID patients in hospital. They include 58 people in intensive care, 24 of whom require ventilation.

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