NSW Face Escalating Covid Cases Amid Mixed Mask Messages
Adam Niescioruk via Unsplash
Mixed messages from New South Wales authorities amid escalating cases and easing restrictions are fuelling uncertainty.
Outbreaks in pubs and clubs as people enjoy their new-found freedoms and celebrate the festive season, have experts now warning that we are approaching a “dangerous time” with Covid cases growing exponentially as cases exceed Victoria's numbers.
Stay up-to-date on the latest news with The National Briefing - keeping you in the loop with news as it hits
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard told reporters on Wednesday that the state “could” face a grim 25,000 new cases per day by “the end of January”.
"So that takes us to about 175,000 in a week - that's one big difference from 1,360 today - which is already a cause for concern."
"So, we may not get to 25,000 new cases every day but we could, and so precautionary principle to me as the Health Minister and my advice to the community is do all the things you know keep us safe," he said.
"Stay outside if you can, wear those masks, get tested if you have any viral symptoms at all and just be careful about yourself and also the community. Thank you."
- Minister Brad Hazzard
Meantime, the former AMA boss Dr Tony Bartone said the focus shouldn't be on what we're made to do by the government but what we should do ourselves to slow down Omicron.
Dr Tony Bartone told Channel 9 masks and other measures have got us through the last two years, urging people to take personal responsibility to protect themselves.
"Wearing a mask, and remembering all those other messages that we've had drilled into us right through, and so close to Christmas - seven-days isolation if you were a direct contact would potentially put you in isolation on Christmas day. Is that what you want to do? I don't think so."
- Dr Tony Bartone
Backing personal care, Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant is 'strongly recommending' we keep wearing masks even though they're no longer mandatory in most places.
'My clear advice is that in indoor settings people should be wearing masks, I feel personally it does reduce the risk and gives a lot of people comfort as they move around,' she said.
Butting heads, Premier Dominic Perrottet defended the relaxation, instead pushing vaccination rates and booster shots as the "balance" to the Covid equation.
“(The) rules are mandatory in high-risk settings, we’ve maintained that we’re highly recommending the use of masks,” he said during Wednesday’s press conference.
“We’ve taken the advice into account, it’s always a balance in terms of the approach the government takes and that’s the decision I’ve made.
"As we're heading into this Christmas period... there's no doubt shopping centres will be busier, we just say please take personal responsibility," he implored.
NSW recorded another surge in Covid cases on Thursday with 1742 new infections, taking over from Victoria, who recorded their biggest spike in two months with 1622 cases and nine Covid related deaths.
Join Tom Tilley with regular rotating co-hosts Jan Fran, Annika Smethurst and Jamila Rizvi on The Briefing, Monday - Saturday, for the day's headlines and breaking news as well as hot topics and interviews. Available on Listnr.