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NSW cases spike as another cluster emerges

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New South Wales has reported 18 cases of community transmission of coronavirus as a second cluster of the deadly disease emerges in Sydney’s inner west.

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The so-called Avalon cluster on Sydney’s northern beaches, which erupted earlier this month, generated another nine case in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.

This brings the total for that cluster to 138.

But there’s also another group of six infected persons, dubbed by health experts as the Croydon cluster, in Sydney’s inner west.

The six include three adults and three children who are members of the same extended family, which had a number of gatherings over a number of days.

“We’ve seen a proliferation of cases outside the northern beaches overnight,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said this morning.

“We anticipate that because of the nature of that extended family’s movements, there will be more cases from that cluster.”

The state government also announced more New Years Eve restrictions for Sydney will be enforced after the “proliferation of cases”.

Household gatherings in Greater Sydney are now limited to five people inside, down from 10, and 30 outdoors, down 50.

On the northern beaches, gatherings of five people will be permitted.

Today’s surge in cases comes just hours after Cricket Australia announced it would push ahead with plans to host the third Test against India in Sydney from January 7 despite earlier speculation the match would be transferred to Melbourne.

Meanwhile, authorities are still looking into three other COVID-19 cases involving two people from the same household in Wollongong on the state’s south coast and another in northern Sydney.

The Wollongong issue has sparked close-contact health alerts for two Greek Orthodox churches in the city dating back to December 27 – St Nektarios Church and The Holy Cross Church.

Casual-contact alerts also apply for several venues at Figtree, including Figtree Grove Shopping Centre, Mona Vale and Wollongong.

Residents have been lining up in large numbers outside Wollongong Hospital to be tested since Tuesday.

Elsewhere, an additional nine infringement fines $1000 have been handed to guests of the Pyrmont wedding after attendees broke a lockdown governing northern beaches residents.

Police Minister David Elliot said the 21 breaches so far relating to the incident was a terrible example of people defying health orders.

“It only takes one infected person to cause another cluster and that’s exactly what we’re trying to avoid,” Mr Elliot told Sydney radio 2GB on Wednesday.

Berejiklian has implored residents in all parts of Sydney to demonstrate “personal responsibility” and stay COVID-safe on New Year’s Eve.

Sydneysiders are mostly banned from watching the famous New Year’s Eve fireworks from the harbour on Thursday after the foreshore was shut for the first time.

The usual 9pm fireworks display has been cancelled and people are being urged to stay at home and watch the shortened seven-minute show at midnight on television.

Restricted areas will be set up around The Rocks and Circular Quay will have no direct public transport routes from 5pm on Thursday evening.

Stay-at-home orders applying to northern beaches residents north of the Narrabeen Bridge will continue until at least January 9. A lockdown for the peninsula’s southern zone will be in place until January 2.

 – AAP

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