New South Wales has recorded another 11 locally acquired cases of Covid-19, as premier Gladys Berejiklian warned this is the “scariest period” the state has faced during the pandemic.
Victoria also recorded two locally acquired cases linked to the Sydney outbreak, prompting the Victorian government to bar arrivals from all of greater Sydney and Wollongong.
A man in his 60s who returned from Sydney to Melbourne on Sunday tested positive and late on Thursday it was confirmed his Sandringham dry cleaners co-worker had also contracted the virus.
In total 18 cases were recorded in NSW on Wednesday – 13 of which had already been announced by the premier – and another six cases were recorded after the 8pm cut off. They will be included in Friday’s numbers.
The new cases mean the Bondi cluster has now grown to 36 cases, but the government is holding off on further restrictions. In total, there are now 48 infections linked to the latest outbreak in Sydney.
“This is probably, if not the most, concerning times I have experienced during the pandemic because we’re dealing with a virus that is extremely contagious,” Berejiklian told reporters on Thursday.
“I do want to stress that my level of concern is medium to high across NSW.”
Berejiklian began her press conference by announcing she had tested negative to the virus, after being in a room with Nationals MP Adam Marshall, who has contracted the virus.
“Health has made their assessments and deemed that I am a casual contact. I was tested very early this morning and isolated and returned a negative test a couple of hours ago and I will continue to follow health advice.”
Rapid testing is being used on NSW parliament MPs to ensure the budget vote can go ahead.
The event of concern was a budget dinner attended by dozens of MPs and staffers, with the deputy premier, John Barilaro, suggesting it could be deemed a super-spreader event.
On Thursday morning the NSW health minister, Brad Hazzard, said he was self-isolating after NSW Health told him he was a “possible close contact” of a “likely positive” case who works for NSW parliament. Around lunchtime he revealed the test had come back negative.
Berejiklian said she was “pleased” that all the new cases bar one were linked to previously recorded cases.
“We do expect more cases in the coming days but we also please expect everybody to do the right thing.”
NSW chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant, backed the decision not to go into lockdown, saying a potential three-day snap lockdown would not address the outbreak.
“Three days is not long enough and if you have a look at the reasons for the three days, it is a pause where you are, [it’s when] you have a sudden surge of cases and you want everybody to stay in the same place, and that allows you to get any backlog of any contact tracing,” Chant said.
“We are not in that situation where we are not getting to people in terms of the contact tracing.”
The unlinked new case is a hairdresser from western Sydney who works in Double Bay, with authorities urgently investigating how he contracted the virus.
Eight of the new cases were linked to a birthday party in West Hoxton, which was attended by a previously reported case. NSW Health reported that around 30 people attended the party, with all attendees tested and in isolation.
Two women in their 20s, one from Wollongong and one from Sydney’s eastern suburbs, as well as two men from the eastern suburbs, have been linked to previously reported cases.
Late on Thursday, NSW Health identified two additional exposure sites: Frankie’s Beans Shop in Darlinghurst in 21 June between 10am and 11am, and 1 and 2pm; and Vinfafe Cafe in Darlinghurst between 3.05pm and 3.45pm on 22 June.
Anyone who was at the venues at that time must isolate for 14 days and get tested.
The Strangers’ Dining Room at NSW Parliament, where the Nationals fundraiser was held between 6pm and 9pm on budget night, 22 June, has also been named an exposure site, however people only need to isolate until they get a negative Covid test result.
Anyone who was at parliament on that date has been told to monitor for symptoms.
The Victorian man who tested positive had visited his daughter’s house in a “green zone” in Sydney on Saturday night, and flew back into Melbourne on Sunday on Jetstar flight JQ523.
The Victorian health minister, Martin Foley, said the man began showing symptoms on Tuesday and returned a positive result on Thursday morning.
“The public health team has acted quickly on finding out this information, we have already established his primary close contacts and they are all undergoing testing.
“We are gathering information and we are getting on top of this as quickly as we can.”
The man lives in an apartment block in Oakleigh, and a risk assessment is being undertaken and support provided to other residents, the Victorian health department said.
On Thursday night, the department confirmed the man’s co-worker at a dry-cleaning business in Sandringham also tested positive after being identified as a close contact.
Health officials are examining QR code data from the business and identifying close contacts. The business has been shut for cleaning.
The Victorian government moved to classify all of greater Sydney and Wollongong as “red zones”, with Foley saying the government was “moving quickly” to address the outbreak.
“We are acting quickly to make sure the that Victoria stays secure and safe to the threat posed by this Delta variant of the virus.”
Foley said Victoria police had already increased their presence along the border with NSW, and that anyone travelling from a red zone would be detained and turned back.
Queensland also recorded three new locally acquired cases, all of which were close contacts of confirmed cases and in isolation.
The state’s deputy premier, Steven Miles, said the government remained “very concerned” at the growing Bondi cluster, and that they had already turned back 20 travellers from Sydney after the border was closed.
The Queensland chief health officer, Dr Jeannette Young, warned all Queenslanders to reconsider any non-emergency travel to NSW.
“I strongly recommend that anyone in Queensland – unless you have an urgent, unavoidable reason – this is not the time to go down into NSW.
“You could end up exposing yourself and putting yourself at risk. Particularly given where we are with our vaccine rollout.”