The New South Wales government has confirmed that a lockdown of the northern part of the northern beaches will be lifted at midnight on Saturday as the state recorded four new locally-acquired cases.
The NSW health minister, Brad Hazzard, said the entire northern beaches region would become part of greater Sydney again, despite the source of a new case reported in the area being still unknown.
Hazzard praised northern beaches residents’ response to the outbreak, particularly their willingness to get tested.
“Public health has confidence sufficiently that if we can expect a similar response from the northern beaches, then we can, with confidence, and reservations – confidence and some reservations – open up from just after midnight on Saturday night,” Hazzard said.
The northern part of the northern beaches has been in lockdown since 19 December. Once it lifts, residents will be subject to the same restrictions as greater Sydney.
In response to Queensland’s decision to impose a snap three-day lockdown on greater Brisbane, the acting NSW premier, John Barilaro, said that the state would not close its border to Queensland.
“At no point during this pandemic have we ever had a knee-jerk reaction or treated the border like a light switch. What we do is work with our counterparts, offer support, because whatever happens in Queensland impacts NSW and any other state,” Barilaro said.
However, anyone in NSW who had visited greater Brisbane since 2 January would need to follow the lockdown rules and stay home from 6pm Friday to 6pm Monday.
The announcement came as NSW recorded four new locally-acquired cases, and seven in hotel quarantine, for a total of 11 new cases on Friday.
Of the four locally-acquired cases, one was the northern beaches resident whose infection was under investigation, one was linked to the Croydon cluster, and two were linked to the Berala cluster.
The NSW chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant, said the northern beaches man tested positive following two weeks in isolation.
“He was asymptomatic through his isolation and tested negative on three occasions through his isolation period. We have tested everyone around the gentleman and have not managed to find the source.
“We are having a couple of test results pending on some more casual contacts, and we have issued some additional guidance in relation to some venue information.”
Chant said the other positive cases had already been self-isolating for their infectious period, and were close contacts of previously reported cases.
The government had also decided to extend the restrictions that apply to the Sydney Test match to A-League games from Friday night, barring residents from western Sydney from attending.
People from Auburn, Belmore, Berala, Birrong, Lidcombe, Potts Hill, Regents Park, Rookwood and Wentworthville would be barred from attending A-League games until 31 January. Masks would also be mandatory at the matches.
In Victoria, the premier, Daniel Andrews, announced another day of zero locally-acquired cases, rejecting reports that the new strain of the virus from the UK had already been detected in the state.
“The strain we are talking about at the moment that is so much more infectious is not here, it has not been here, and it is our aim to keep it out,” he said.
“It is wrong to say that the UK strain that we are absolutely concerned about right now was here months ago. Arguably it didn’t actually exist months ago.”
Andrews also apologised for the delays in some people receiving their test results, explaining that there was a technical problem at a private lab.
The technical outage meant about 10,000 people did not receive their negative test results in time to be reported on Friday, with the results due to be reported in Saturday’s update.
“There was a hardware problem at one of the private laboratories overnight. That was rectified at 3am.
“People are getting the news that they want. Those 10,000 results will be essentially added to the total. In effect results received today … will be around 33,000 tests, not the 23,000 that we already have reported.”
Andrews warned that although the signs were positive that the Black Rock cluster had been contained, it had “not quite run to ground”.
A number of people were still self-isolating and may return positive results, but the premier was upbeat about the large number of tests carried out.
“I wouldn’t say it was over, but we’re confident, I think, and very positive about the fact that we’re not seeing further chains of transmission, we’re not seeing further outbreaks that are in some way linked to that Black Rock outbreak.”