Ten new virus cases have been revealed in NSW, with five linked to the northern beaches cluster.
Three are associated with the growing new outbreak in Croydon after six members of the same family tested positive on Wednesday, sparking fears the virus is spreading across Greater Sydney.
“One is a link to the transport worker cluster which we previously have spoken about and one is under investigation,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
“There’s a chance it’s an old case or else a false positive but serological is looking at that.”
There were 28,000 tests conducted in the latest reporting period, up from 17,000 the day before.
Chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said the source of the Croydon cluster was still under investigation but genomic sequencing results were due in the coming hours.
Seven cases were also recorded in hotel quarantine.
In response to the outbreak, Sydneysiders, and those on the Central Coast, Blue Mountains and Wollongong, are only allowed to have five visitors over for the New Year’s Eve celebrations. Outdoor gatherings will be limited to 30 people.
“Tonight is New Year’s Eve and ordinarily our activities will be very different to what we’re asking everybody to do,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“I understand most people completely appreciate why we have put the restrictions in place. I want to thank everybody for their co-operation and I want to thank everybody for taking the current situation seriously as we need to.”
NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing said changes to public health orders would not influence Thursday night’s police operation which is well underway.
“The police operation centre is currently up and running. We’re in the process of standing up a number of forward commands across the metropolitan areas and in regional NSW,” he said.
“Again, I need to remind people if you are looking at coming into the city, you need to have a New Year’s Eve pass. We’re encouraging people not to travel around if you don’t have to.”
He warned officers will be out door knocking and checking licensed premises to ensure people are not breaching public health orders.
No new cases have so far been linked to the Wollongong case which was revealed on Tuesday.
A woman in her 50s tested positive before her household contact returned a positive swab the following day.
The case sparked huge testing queues in the coastal town.
Questions have also been raised about how the third cricket Test between Australia and India can go ahead at the SCG next week given the outbreak.
Dr Chant said health authorities would continue to monitor the “rapidly changing” situation.
“ I don’t think we have been ever fearful of changing our advice or putting in additional controls where it needed to be,” she said.
“We are very keen to work with the SCG, to make sure the COVID safety plans are robust but also if the situation evolves and we’re more concerned about community transmission, then we will take the appropriate (measures).”
NSW residents are being urged to wear masks but officials are yet to mandate mask wearing.
Victoria has also recorded six new cases of COVID-19 within the community in more than 60 days after a traveller from NSW unknowingly spread the disease.
All cases are linked to Smile Buffalo Thai restaurant in Black Rock. Masks will be mandatory in Victoria when in doors from 5pm Thursday.
More to come