NSW Health officials fear Sydney’s COVID-19 outbreak is spreading even further, with six new cases linked to a family at Croydon in the city’s inner west overnight.
Sydney recorded 18 new cases in the past 24 hours with nine of those linked to the northern beaches cluster.
But concerns the virus is spreading west were revealed by NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant on Wednesday, as she announced a new, unlinked cluster that has at least 34 close contacts.
“There are six cases – three adults and three children, all members of the same extended family and they’re all linked to the cluster in the inner west which we’re now calling the Croydon cluster,” Dr Chant said.
“One of these cases was first reported yesterday morning, as that case had come in very late the prior night.
“We are expecting there will be additional cases linked to that cluster just because of the number of close contacts and the close household contact that a number of those contacts had over the period of Christmas and the following days.
“That Croydon family had a number of gatherings over a number of days. There were (at least) 34 close contacts.
“There are not 34 people infected; what we have announced is six. What we’re saying is we know there were a lot of the interactions, a lot of household gatherings between approximately 34 close contacts.”
Dr Chant said she was most concerned that there has been no link established between the northern beaches cluster and the new mystery outbreak.
“This Croydon cluster, at this moment, we have not found a link to the northern beaches despite 24 hours of really intensive investigations,” she said.
“It’s not to say we won’t, but at this stage, that is concerning. Again, this highlights the fact that COVID could be anywhere, so that is why our advice about wearing a mask maintaining social distance in an while queuing.”
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian stressed health officials still had the outbreak under control.
“The health advice is still such that we have a handle on the current outbreak,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“I mean, obviously the Croydon cluster is concerning because there is no established link. But all the other cases, there is some crossover with venues or regions that we have identified as a concern.
“We request people to urgently get tested. That gives us a sense of the scope and how many we’re dealing with.”
There are three further locally-acquired cases still under investigation. Two cases, members of the same household, are from the Wollongong area and one is from northern Sydney.
One of the cases from Wollongong and the northern Sydney case were first reported yesterday morning.
Seven cases were acquired overseas and are in hotel quarantine.
The outbreak has forced the government to further tighten restrictions a day out from New Year’s Eve.
Indoor gatherings in greater Sydney are now limited to five per household, while outdoor gatherings have been reduced from a maximum of 50 to 30.