NSW Covid update: stronger restrictions for Sydney as Gladys Berejiklian flags lockdown extension | Coronavirus

Restrictions will be tightened in Sydney as NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian warns the “really concerning” increase in Covid numbers could stymy plans to lift lockdown at the end of next week.

Of the 44 new cases recorded to 8pm on Thursday, 29 were either partially or fully in the community and not isolating during their infectious period.

It is the highest number of NSW daily infections since the first wave of the pandemic in 2020, and Berejiklian said she expected cases would continue to rise over the next few days.

“That is the number really concerning us,” Berejiklian said. “It tells us that in the next few days, those numbers are going to go up. This is the opposite of where we need or want the numbers to trend.”

The state will tighten its stay-at-home orders for greater Sydney in response, limiting exercise to a maximum 10km from home or within their local government area, with a maximum of two people per group.

From Sunday, funerals will be capped at 10 people.

While NSW has come under criticism for not defining what is “essential” shopping, leading to many retailers remaining open during lockdown, browsing in shops will now be banned, and shopping is limited to one person per household per day.

The number of close contacts identified by NSW Health doubled overnight from 7,000 to 14,000 due to a number of large venues being listed as exposure sites.

Berejiklian warned unless there was a turnaround, the lockdown could be extended beyond the three weeks.

“Unless there is a dramatic change, unless there is a dramatic turnaround in the numbers, I can’t see how we would be in a position to ease restrictions by next Friday.”

The NSW premier talked down health minister Brad Hazzard’s earlier comments that the state might have to learn to live with the virus, and said cases would need to be as close to zero as possible before lockdown would end.

“No state or nation or any country on the planet can live with the Delta variant when our vaccination rates are so low. So please, do not think that the New South Wales government thinks we can live with this when our rate of vaccination is only at 9%,” she said.

“When you only have 9% of your community vaccinated, opening up before you get as close to that zero number as possible, it means you would subject thousands and thousands to hospitalisation and death.”

There are 43 people in hospital being treated for Covid-19 in NSW, including 14 aged under 55. There are 10 Covid patients in intensive care in New South Wales, with four on ventilatators.

Of the 10 people in intensive care, one is in their 20s, one is in their 30s, one is in their 50s, five are in their 60s, and two are in their 70s.

Of the 44 new cases, 21 are from south-western Sydney, where 100 police have been deployed to enforce the lockdown rules.

Eight cases live in south-eastern Sydney and seven are from Western Sydney.

South-western Sydney residents have told Guardian Australia they feel “scape-goated” and treated more harshly than the eastern suburbs residents were at the start of the outbreak.

Berejiklian said police were moving where the virus was moving, and people should not feel they are being treated differently.

“I don’t want anyone to feel like that. But if you are not doing the right thing, please know that we will have to have the law come down on you, because the simple fact is, people doing the wrong thing means that all of us suffer,” she said.

Meanwhile in the Northern Territory, chief minister Michael Gunner declared “we did it!” as restrictions on venues such as gyms and mask rules were lifted from 1pm as a result of the territory’s outbreak getting under control.

Victoria reported its ninth day of zero new locally-acquired cases, as restrictions also eased allowing for people to go maskless in offices, and for greater venue capacities, and the return of dancefloors.

Queensland also reported zero cases.

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