Fears NSW could lose control of virus


NSW residents could face a huge surge in COVID-19 cases if any infections linked to the state's three new mystery cases aren't identified, a top doctor has warned.

NSW Health's Dr Jeremy McAnulty said high testing rates were the key to keeping these cases from turning into an uncontrollable outbreak.

"We've seen testing rates in the community fall. Every week for the last few weeks. And so the message for all of us is if you have even a mild sniffle or sore throat or feeling unwell or shortness of breath, don't hesitate to go and get tested," he said.

"If you don't get tested, we won't identify cases and won't be able to control further spread. But if you delay testing too, that means every day you are not tested is an extra day you might be exposing people."

If comes after an alert was issued to diners at an iconic Sydney restaurant after the venue was visited by a confirmed COVID-19 case last Saturday.

Anyone who attended Ripples restaurant in Milsons Point on October 3 between 8pm and 10.30 has been told to immediately get tested and self-isolate for 14 days.

Meanwhile, the next 48 hours will be "critical" for NSW if health authorities want to avoid another COVID-19 cluster, an epidemiologist has warned.

Professor Catherine Bennett, chair in epidemiology at Deakin University, told the ABC that the next few days will be essential for contact tracers to find the source of Sydney's new mystery cases.

"That's the frustration, when you've had your 12-day run, and then you suddenly find these new cases, and three within one 24-hour period. So, there is a lot of work for the Health Department to do, to try and understand what's going on here," Prof Bennett said.

"They don't seem to foresee any immediate link with these cases. It doesn't mean they might not find one, but that's the frustration.

"The next 48 hours are going to be quite critical in understanding if they can find links, and understand where these cases have stemmed from."

Prof Bennett also commented on the strict border rules set by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, saying these conditions around community transmission aren't a "feasible" way for the country to move forward in living with the virus.

"I think that's a concern, that this isn't going to be a feasible way ahead. Every state has to be ready to follow up should there be some transmission," she said.

"The risk is very low, but it's not zero."

Prof Bennett said even if NSW finds out the source of these cases it still means there is underlying transmission within the community.

"I think our policies around borders and other things need to take that into account, as does our preparedness in every state to manage cases, or even cases linked across borders, once we open borders, to to actually have a safe way of going ahead, but a way that doesn't rely on these very strict rules that are going to be increasingly difficult to meet," she said.

Originally published as Fears NSW could lose control of virus

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