New South Wales has restricted visits to health facilities after the state recorded more COVID-19 cases than ever before on Thursday.
There were 1742 infections, with the escalating case numbers being driven by super-spreading events at large venues like pubs and nightclubs, fueled by the highly-transmissible Omicron variant.
In a Thursday night statement, NSW Health said they had “not made this decision lightly.”
“We have temporarily restricted visitors to healthcare facilities due to increasing transmission rates with the emergence of the Omicron variant,” NSW Health tweeted.
“We must always prioritise our vulnerable patients and staff who are arguably the most vital workers needed in a pandemic.”
Patients will be allowed visitors for compassionate reasons only and to provide essential needs including palliative care and supporting women in childbirth.
All visitors must be fully vaccinated and follow mask-wearing rules.
The state’s latest significant cluster emerged from a Taylor Swift-themed dance party in the Sydney CBD on Friday.
At least 97 people have tested positive so far, NSW Health said on Thursday evening, with at least some of the cases likely to be the Omicron variant.
All 600 people who arrived at the Metro Theatre after 9pm were designated close contacts and forced to isolate for a week.
A series of super-spreader events in Newcastle have caused a wave of infections in the Hunter area, which was responsible for 633 of the new cases.
The majority are the Omicron variant.
It comes after the state relaxed rules for masks and check-ins on Wednesday despite the rising case numbers, with the unvaccinated now able to participate fully in society.
Could more restrictions return?
While stressing the NSW Government was committed to “living with the virus,” Jobs Minister Stuart Ayres has warned that officials will not hesitate to reimpose restrictions if required.
“If we start to see people who are unvaccinated making their way back into hospital because they don’t have those levels of protection, the government will take action to ensure that we protect people and protect our health system,” he told Sunrise on Thursday.
“Ultimately, this is all about protecting our health system, so having high case numbers is one thing, but what we’ve really got to do is make sure we’ve got less people presenting to hospital and putting demand on the health system.”
As well as a return of QR code check-ins and proof of vaccination, Ayres added that localised lockdowns could also be on the cards.
“We’ll keep that option open,” he confirmed.
“We’ve always said that as we reopen our economy we have to learn to live with the virus. Part of that is taking localised actions.
“If we believe that is the right thing to do, then that is definitely an option on the table.”
– With AAP