Dec 17, 2020
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript December 17
New South Wales, Australia Premier Gladys Berejiklian gave COVID-19 updates to the press on December 17, 2020. Read the full transcript here.
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Gladys Berejiklian : (00:00)
[inaudible 00:00:00] So positively to the testing that we’ve asked everybody to do, given the outbreak of the cluster. Can I also thank our contact tracers and those during the genomic testing in Health, who’ve literally been working 24/7 to get on top of this outbreak as much as possible. Yesterday we’d advise that as at 8:00 PM last night, there’d been 15 locally acquired cases linked to the Avalon cluster. Two from the previous day had brought that total to 17. There is also one additional case of a person who traveled to Queensland that also had obtained that from that same cluster, which brings that up to 18. And then overnight, since 8:00 PM, we have had a 10 additional cases. So those 10 additional cases mean that in the last 48 hours, there’s been a total of 28 linked to that cluster. All but one is confirmed to be linked to that cluster, and Dr. Chant will provide a detailed breakdown of what those 28 cases are and what that means moving forward.
Gladys Berejiklian : (01:05)
Can I please stress to everybody in and around Avalon and the Northern Beaches that for the next three days, you should not be leaving your home unless it’s absolutely necessary. Please make sure that if you do leave your home for necessary business that you wear a mask, especially if you’re going grocery shopping, especially if you’re catching public transport, and of course, stay away from nonessential activities such as entering [inaudible 00:01:29] those high-risk venues, whether it’s a hotel, or restaurant, or cafe. People should only be undertaking, on the Northern Beaches, absolutely necessary activity. And if we get on top of this in the next two or three days, all of us will be able to have a much better Christmas, but if we don’t get on top of it in the next few days, it could mean further restrictions down the track.
Gladys Berejiklian : (01:50)
We don’t want to go for that. We want to see what we can manage with the existing guidelines we’ve set for the community, and I do want to thank deeply the community of Avalon and the more broadly the Northern Beaches, who have responded very positively to what we’ve asked them to do. Minister Hazzard will outline all the clinics that are available for testing. We do note that some people said yesterday they had to wait a couple of hours before they were tested. We want to avoid that. So there’s at least a dozen places you can go get tested, including over the weekend, which Minister Hazzard will outline. Six or seven of those were popped up or stood up yesterday to give that extra ability for people to get tested as soon as they need to.
Gladys Berejiklian : (02:30)
Can I also express a broader message of high alert for everybody around Sydney. We know, and Dr. Chant will communicate, that a couple of the cases or they’re directly linked to the Avalon RSL or the Avalon Bowlo. A couple of people at those venues weren’t from the Northern Beaches. They’ve gone back to their home, get back to their other suburbs, and Dr. Chant will elaborate on that, but it does mean there’s potential seeding outside of Avalon and outside of the Northern Beaches and this is what we need to prevent.
Gladys Berejiklian : (03:00)
So everybody in Greater Sydney needs to be on high alert. If you have the modest of symptoms, please get tested and isolate. But also can everybody please think about their activity. Nobody should be getting on public transport without wearing a mask. Nobody in Greater Sydney should be going to a supermarket, a place of worship, or other high-risk areas without wearing a mask. It will just be crazy if people are undertaking those activities without wearing a mask, because the harder all of us work together, the better Christmas we will have and that’s certainly our objective, but even people in Greater Sydney should think about what they’re doing.
Gladys Berejiklian : (03:36)
I know that there are a lot of Christmas parties on at this time, a lot of social gatherings. Please consider what is essential, and if you are going to continue those activities outside of the Northern Beaches, because certainly we don’t want anybody on the Northern Beaches doing that, but if you are going to continue those activities, please be extra COVID safe.
Gladys Berejiklian : (03:53)
I also want to call out to businesses and organizations. The feedback from Health is that some venues have been outstanding in their QR codes and keeping records of who’s been at those venues. Some others have been absolutely hopeless. So we need to make sure that everybody works extra hard. Nobody should be entering any venue in Greater Sydney where there isn’t strict adherence to QR codes, where there isn’t good record keeping because that means you and your family are at risk.
Gladys Berejiklian : (04:19)
The last thing any one of us want to do is get the virus, then turn up to Christmas lunch and give it to all of our loved ones, and that is a potential risk at the moment, given the number of cases we have. And we always, in New South Wales, pride ourselves on having a proportionate response to what’s occurring, but I don’t want to understate how serious the current outbreak is and how hard all of us need to work together to get on top of it, and that’s my strongest message today. We do have the potential to get on top of it. However, it requires hard work from all of us.
Gladys Berejiklian : (04:51)
I was asked earlier this morning about my response to what other state leaders are doing in relation to the borders, and I’d ask everybody just to have a proportionate response to what’s happening in New South Wales. If I was a leader in another state, I would certainly be making provisions about people who are coming from a hotspot, from the Avalon cluster in the Northern Beaches, but I ask people to consider the fact that vast parts of New South Wales are completely unaffected. And we want to reduce the stress as much as we can on our citizens.
Gladys Berejiklian : (05:21)
Many people, after months of absolute torture, for want of a better term, have been separated from loved ones, as have employers in terms of their ability to keep employees on their books, and we just ask everybody to consider that and to have a response which is measured compared to what’s going on in New South Wales. But again, I want to thank the community for responding. I also want to make sure that people outside of Avalon and the Northern Beaches also are on high alert.
Gladys Berejiklian : (05:49)
Think about what you’re doing, where you’re going. Better to be cautious than not. If you’re going grocery shopping, wear a mask. Jumping on public transport, wear a mask. In particular, if you’re going to a place of worship, please, please wear a mask. We know where the high-risk activities are, we know what the high risk events are, and we need people to respond accordingly.
Gladys Berejiklian : (06:11)
So just to recap, as at 8:00 PM last night, we had 15 community transmission cases yesterday, three other cases, which brought the total to 18 from that Avalon cluster, and an additional 10 since 8:00 PM last night, but I also want to stress to the community and to everybody that as soon as Health gets information about a venue or about someone who’s acquired this disease who may have exposed others, you will get information real-time. You will get it the same time I do.
Gladys Berejiklian : (06:40)
However, as far as the numbers are concerned, to avoid confusion, we will be providing one daily update at 11:00 AM on the numbers to make sure that everybody’s clear on what’s going on. So can I stress, everybody gets real-time information on venues, on close contacts, and you would have seen overnight about 15 additional venues were put on that list. Many of the people involved have been very social, but they’ve been largely contained to the Northern Beaches. However, there are some venues and a couple of individuals that were outside that area, and again, Dr. Chant will provide that update. But please be assured, you will get information as soon as I do, because that’s what’s allowed us to respond quickly, but just for consistency’s sake around the numbers, we’ll provide a daily update at 11:00 AM until the foreseeable future. I now ask Dr. Chant to give her update, then Minister Hazzard will provide further detail on where people in particular can go and get tested and also other health advice. Thank you.
Dr. Kerry Chant: (07:35)
Thank you, Premier. So, perhaps if I just break down the two situations we were dealing with. So, earlier in the week, we reported a driver, a bus driver who transports international flight crew. We’ve had no further cases associated with that bus driver, and certainly to date, his close contacts have tested negative, but obviously, they’re in isolation and we need to wait that full 14 days, but they don’t pose a risk to others at this time.
Dr. Kerry Chant: (08:06)
In relation to the genome sequencing, the genome sequencing has demonstrated that that strain that that gentleman had was most likely a US strain, and that is consistent with the hypothesis we have, that inadvertent transmission by a flight crew that he was transporting was the source of his infection. So, we remain vigilant in relation to those cases, but at this stage, we have not had any further cases associated with that gentleman, and his exposure in the community was very limited. We have had one other venue that we’ve identified, and again, we appreciate the cooperation of the community.
Dr. Kerry Chant: (08:48)
In relation to the Avalon cluster, I can, as the Premier indicated, there are 28 cases associated with that, and that’s including the one case that was diagnosed in Queensland. So in terms of the breakdown of where people attended, eight people attended the Avalon RSL on the 11th of December. 16 attended the Avalon Bowlo on the 13th of December. Two cases attended both venues, and two cases have been linked to one or either of these venues. So, that clearly shows that we’ve had a significant seeding event that we think occurred on the 11th of December, and then people were infected at that time and then attended the Avalon Bowlo and then amplified the infection further there.
Dr. Kerry Chant: (09:51)
So anyone who attended the Avalon RSL on the 11th of December in the said times, and the Avalon Bowlo on the 13th of December, you should have been contacted by New South Wales Health contact tracing, and we acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of the businesses to assist us in that contact tracing, but it is essential that you get tested and you adhere to the health advice around being isolated.
Dr. Kerry Chant: (10:20)
In terms of the genome sequencing, in relation to that case, again, it showed an international strain of the likely US origins, and we are at the moment looking for where that potentially could have matched. We have found a case in a returned traveler where there are some similarities, but at this moment, our investigations are very preliminary and we are looking at any source. But all I can say at this stage is it is of American origin, US origin, and it is similar to a strain that we have seen coming in terms of an overseas return travel that did come in here around early December.
Speaker 3: (11:04)
Kerry, just talk about the ones outside [inaudible 00:11:06].
Dr. Kerry Chant: (11:06)
Okay. So there are a number of venues people did travel to the Northern Beaches to attend, the Avalon RSL, in particular. So we have got people that are residing in other suburbs outside the Northern Beaches and Cronulla. There’s a list of the venues that we’re particularly concerned about, so in Penrith, and there’s a whole list of casual venues, casual contact venues that have been listed, and also some train and rail trips. So I would urge everyone to go to the New South Wales website. It is broken down into those that are close contact venues, where we require people to get tested then to isolate for the 14 days, and for the advice around some of the casual contacts, where it is to get a test and then remain isolated till you have a negative result and then monitor for symptoms.
Minister Hazzard: (11:57)
Thanks, Kerry. I want to start off by just saying that over the last few weeks, the Premier and I and Dr. Chant have all been talking to our community about the amazing work they’ve done, but we’ve also been talking about the creeping complacency that has occurred. Well, I think we’d have to say that from being out and about in the last two weeks, the complacency is no longer creeping, it’s an avalanche. We need to actually have all of the community aware again that we are in the middle of a worldwide COVID pandemic. And I think it’s time for us with the… The Avalon cluster has served as a very timely reminder to all of us, particularly those in the broader regions of Sydney, there is no room for complacency. Until we have a vaccine, we don’t have a solution.
Minister Hazzard: (12:46)
We have to keep our borders open to returning Australian travelers. We have to keep the air crews coming in because they’re bringing in vital freight for our residents. So what we do need is everybody to be aware that you can only do so much, there’ll always be the possibility of something creeping out from somewhere. We can keep plugging the holes, but we just need everybody to be aware, complacency just cannot continue.
Minister Hazzard: (13:11)
So, and on the Northern Beaches, particularly at Avalon, which is of course the peninsula that I’ve grown up on and live on, I’ve got to say that that complacency has been there as well. And this event around the Avalon cluster, again, is a very important, I think, reminder for all of us that we need to take care.
Minister Hazzard: (13:34)
Again, I want to thank the residents of the Northern Beaches and particularly the northern end of the Northern Beaches, because you’ve come out in massive numbers today. As a result, we’ve doubled the number of opportunities for people to have tests, and I’m just going to run through that list so people know where they are. If you miss this, then it’s on the, it will be on the Health website.
Minister Hazzard: (13:55)
First of all, the Avalon pop-up, that’s at the Avalon Recreation Centre, at Old Barrenjoey Road. Avalon Laverty drive-through pathology, which will be in the Avalon Bowling Club Car Park. That’ll operate from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. The others are mostly open from 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM.
Minister Hazzard: (14:11)
Palm Beach Laverty drive-through pathology, and that’s also opening today. That is in Governor Phillip Car Park. The Newport pop-up, there’ll be one at the Newport Community Centre, a pop-up there. There’ll be Warringah Aquatic Centre drive-through. I actually saw that one this morning and the traffic was very long, which is a good sign for people, but it also means that you should think about going to other venues as well. Mona Vale Hospital walk-in clinic, obviously at Mona Vale.
Minister Hazzard: (14:44)
Brookvale Community Health Centre, and that’s a very good one. I was there a couple of weeks ago having a test. It’s certainly, if you need to go somewhere, that’s down opposite Warringah Mall. Northern Beaches Hospital. Manly Histopath drive-through at the Old Manly Hospital site. It’s 150 Darley Road. North Narrabeen Clinical Labs pathology drive-through clinic. That’s at Pittwater Road, Narrabeen, 1416 at Narrabeen. And Warriewood Histopath drive-through at Rat Park, which is 1472 Pittwater Road at Warriewood. The final one is a little bit off the beaches, but if you’re up that way, it’s St. Ives Douglass Hanly Moir drive-through pathology, which is at St. Ives Showground, which is just on the edge of the Northern Beaches area, at 450 Mona Vale Road.
Minister Hazzard: (15:31)
So again, as Health minister, my important message is, this is a solitary reminder that we’re in the middle of a one in 100 year pandemic. Don’t let complacency creep in, because you may be the person [inaudible 00:15:46] suffers, but it may also be your family, your mom, your dad, your uncle, particularly young people. I’d say this. Young people think that they’re immortal. Well, no you’re not, but most importantly, you need to know that by not getting tested if you’ve got any symptoms of a cold or flu-like illness, you’re putting your older relatives, your grandparents, your aunts, your uncles, your mom and dad at risk, so everybody, this is a journey for everybody. Be on it, and get tested. Thank you.