Sydney virus cluster hits double figures, as premiers plead for vaccine boost
Sydney's public transport services will return to a regular timetable at the end of the month. Photo: AAP
Sydney’s coronavirus cluster has reached double figures, with two more infections confirmed on Monday.
Both are in addition to two cases confirmed by state health authorities on Sunday but officially included in Monday’s data.
The two newest cases were reported after 8pm Sunday, and will officially be part of Tuesday’s numbers. They take the cluster that began in Sydney’s eastern suburbs last week and is spreading across the city to 11.
The latest infections came as state and territory leaders held an urgent national cabinet meeting to work out how to turbocharge Australia’s beleaguered vaccine rollout.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who said on Sunday that her state faced a critical few days, was to use the meeting to appeal for more Pfizer vaccine doses for NSW.
“The current outbreak we’re experiencing demonstrates the risk is always there, the threats are always there, no matter how good your systems are,” she told Sydney radio 2GB on Monday.
“Other states have received a top-up, and I just want to make sure we get our fair share, especially given the vast majority of Aussies coming back home are coming through Sydney Airport.”
In Victoria, Acting Premier James Merlino also renewed his calls for the Commonwealth to urgently increase the state’s Pfizer dose supply for the next two months.
Victoria had just one new local coronavirus infection on Monday – from the Southbank residential complex that was put into isolation last week as an outbreak grew across its 100-plus house.
Ahead of the national cabinet meeting – which was being led remotely by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who is in quarantine at The Lodge – Mr Merlino said he was concerned there was not a sufficient “sense of urgency” around the vaccine rollout.
“When you compare how Australia is going with the rest of the world, we are falling so far behind it’s not funny,” he said.
Mr Merlino said he welcomed the recent appointment of Lieutenant-General John Frewen to oversea the COVID-19 rollout.
“God knows we need someone to sort out the mess in Canberra,” he said.
But he remained concerned Victoria’s projected supplies of Pfizer would be reduced in coming weeks.
“What we’ve seen out of this very high-level plan are fewer doses for Victorians for weeks in July and August, before a mad rush at the end of the year,” he said.
Last week, federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said Victoria’s Pfizer supply was boosted to 105,000 doses a week during its recent lockdown. The baseline weekly supply, which the state will return to at the end of June, is about 83,000.
Mr Merlino said Victoria was prevented from buying its own supplies of Pfizer and had to rely on distribution from the federal government.
“If subnational jurisdictions could purchase Pfizer we would do it in a heartbeat,” he said.
Elsewhere, residents of seven local local council areas in Sydney faced further virus restrictions from Sunday. Anyone shopping, working in hospitality or indoors must wear a mask unless eating or drinking if they live in the local government areas of Randwick, Bayside, Botany Bay, Inner West, City of Sydney, Waverley and Woollahra.
Masks will also remain compulsory on public transport in greater Sydney until at least Thursday, with the order expanded to include the Wollongong and Shellharbour local government areas.
- See an updated list of NSW exposure sites here
Greater Sydney and Blue Mountains residents have been told to avoid non-essential visits to aged care and disability facilities. Visitors are limited to two a day, and must wear masks.
Sydney’s latest COVID cluster was sparked last week when an unvaccinated airport driver, who transported overseas aircrew, tested positive to the highly transmissible Delta variant after visiting multiple venues.