New South Wales has recorded 105 new Covid cases and the death of a woman in her 90s as residents in greater Sydney adjust to tougher lockdown restrictions designed to curb the rate of infection.
Another day of triple-figure cases followed the death of a woman in her 90s from south-east Sydney on Saturday, the fourth death attributed to the current outbreak.
Of the new cases, premier Gladys Berejiklian said 27 had been infectious while in the community.
“That’s the number that worries us the most, we’ve seen that number crop up day in and day out,” she said on Sunday.
A total of 66 of Sunday’s cases were linked to known clusters while 39 remained under investigation.
The state was yet to see a significant drop in case numbers despite some form of lockdown conditions in the capital for three weeks.
Berejiklian said she expected a lag of between five or six days until case numbers began to drop as a result of the latest restrictions.
“We are throwing everything at this, we want to come out of this lockdown as soon as possible,” she said.
The majority of Sunday’s cases are concentrated in south-western Sydney, with 69 found in the Fairfield local government area.
However, the chief health officer, Kerry Chant, said residents had to be vigilant no matter where they were in greater Sydney.
“Every time you leave your house, it is critical that you assume you are coming into contact with Covid,” she said on Sunday.
Residents are barred from leaving three council areas unless they are “authorised workers”, while all but critical retailers across Sydney are closed.
Stay-at-home orders were tightened in Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown and Liverpool, with locals not allowed to leave until 30 July.
Initially there were only exceptions for workers in health or emergency services, however the list has been expanded considerably to include retail workers in shops as well as teachers, manufacturing and freight drivers, among others. All authorised workers leaving those three local government areas are required to complete a Covid test every three days.
Asked about the shifting guidelines in the wake of the major announcement, Berejiklian thanked residents for their patience and said “comprehensive” information was now available.
“I’m not embarrassed to say that in public life yesterday was probably the most difficult day I’ve had personally,” she said.
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian speaks during a Covid update on Sunday. Photograph: Jenny Evans/Getty Images
The south-western lockdown has prompted a harsh response from some within the medical community. The Doctors Reform Society said enough Pfizer vaccine to administer to all 600,000 adults who live within the three municipalities should be provided within the next fortnight.
Tougher restrictions now apply across the entire greater Sydney region including the shutting down of construction sites large and small.
Supermarkets, pharmacies, banks and few other retailers are allowed to open and must operate with “click and collect” or takeaway.
All office workers and others working from home should not be pressured to go in to work, with employers to face a $10,000 fine if they push staff to attend.
With data modelling based on more than 400 exposure sites indicating everyone in Sydney is at risk, the premier said the harder line was needed.
On Saturday she defended the measures taken to curb the outbreak so far, saying they had prevented “thousands and thousands” of cases and the further restrictions were a “no-regrets policy”.
The harsher measures were prompted by the persistent numbers of people infectious in the community before they were diagnosed.
Residents were assured on Saturday that government agencies would mobilise between now and 30 July to provide them with supplies and services as needed.