Coronavirus updates LIVE: Sydney’s western suburbs on high alert after NSW records eight local cases on Sunday; Victoria records three

Summary

  • NSW recorded eight new cases of community transmission from 18,923 tests. Two are household contacts of a case linked to the Avalon cluster, but five are related to the Berala cluster. One is a household contact of a known source.
  • Genomic testing on the Berala BWS cluster (now 13 cases) in western Sydney is linked to the patient transport driver and not the Avalon cluster. Thousands of customers who may have been exposed at the BWS store between December 22 and December 31 are being urged to get tested and isolate for 14 days, no matter the result.
  • Masks are now mandatory in Greater Sydney, on the Central Coast, and in the Blue Mountains and Wollongong. There is a $200 fine for those who don’t comply.
  • Victoria has recorded three new local cases from 22,477 tests, all of which are connected to the Black Rock cluster. The federal government is urging Victoria to help residents stranded in NSW get home as soon as possible after the Andrews government said only those with special circumstances would be allowed to return.
  • Victorian health authorities have warned of “significant queues” at testing sites, but the number of tests completed in Melbourne’s south-east increased by more a third. It is expected that most of the returned travellers from NSW will have been tested by Wednesday.

Sydney's July v December outbreaks compared

Covid19data.com.au has compared Sydney's July Crossroads Hotel and December Avalon/patient transport worker outbreaks, which makes for an interesting comparison.

The charts (embedded below) track the first coronavirus cases in July associated with and following the Crossroads cluster and the first December Avalon case (and subsequent outbreaks, such as the Croydon and BWS Berala clusters) against each other. In July, there were 155 cases on day 18 of that outbreak compared to 188 on day 18 now. When Sydney last had 155 active cases, it took more than three months (greater than 100 days) to get back to consecutive days of zero local cases being reported.

The graphs refer to December and July because NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said on Sunday that there were presently two concurrent outbreaks affecting Sydney since December – the cluster connected to infected overseas travellers and a patient transport driver who became infected (connected to the BWS Berala cluster), and the Avalon cluster, which has no identified "patient zero" to date and whose source may remain a mystery. The strain of COVID-19 at the heart of the Avalon cluster has, however, been identified as being from the United States.

A NSW Health surveillance report said there were no new cases linked to the Crossroads cluster after August 1. The cluster was closed at the end of that month. But several other clusters followed, including Thai Rock Restaurant Wetherill, Bankstown area funeral services, and Tangara School.

Police investigate Queensland border breach by former Christian lobby head

Late last night, Queensland police said they were "making further enquiries" about a possible border breach by former leader of the Australian Christian Lobby Lyle Shelton, who boasted online about a "sneaky run" across the NSW-Queensland border.

The Australian political activist and prominent social conservative said he "avoided the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] virus police", to which Queensland Police replied on Twitter"We are aware of this tweet and making further inquiries".

Hello and welcome to Monday

Hello and thanks for joining us for our ongoing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

Here's a quick recap of where we're at as we start today:

  • NSW yesterday recorded eight new cases of community transmission from 18,923 tests. Two are household contacts of a case linked to the Avalon cluster, but five are related to the Berala BWS cluster. One is a household contact of a known source
  • Genomic testing on the Berala cluster (now 13 cases) in western Sydney show it is linked to the patient transport driver at Sydney airport who ferried infected overseas travellers, and not the Avalon cluster
  • Thousands of customers who may have been exposed at the BWS store between December 22 and December 31 at times listed on the NSW Health website are being urged to get tested and isolate for 14 days, no matter the result
  • Masks are now mandatory in greater Sydney, on the Central Coast, and in the Blue Mountains and Wollongong. There is a $200 fine for those who don't comply
  • Victoria yesterday recorded three new local cases from 22,477 tests, all of which are connected to the Black Rock cluster. There are now 32 active cases across the state, with 21 of those connected to the Black Rock cluster. Thirteen of the people who have contracted COVID-19 were present at the Smile Buffalo Thai restaurant in Black Rock on December 21
  • The federal government is urging Victoria to help residents stranded in NSW get home as soon as possible after the Andrews government said only those with special circumstances would be allowed to return
  • Victorian health authorities have warned of "significant queues" at testing sites, but the number of tests completed in Melbourne's south-east increased by more a third. It is expected that most of the returned travellers from NSW will have been tested by Wednesday
  • Travellers heading to New Zealand from the UK or the US will soon need a negative test result to enter, after the mutant COVID-19 strain from the UK broke the border

Stay with us as we cover these and other events throughout the day.

A drive-through COVID-19 testing clinic in Auburn, Sydney.Credit:Getty Images

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