Cases climb as Bondi hostel is closed | Chronicle of the border

The number of people diagnosed with the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in New South Wales has risen to 42, as the total number of new viral infections peaks in almost two months.

Some 420 people were diagnosed with the virus on Wednesday, including eight cases of the worrying new variant, the largest tally since October 13.

Health officials fear the number of cases will continue to rise thanks to transmission during the holiday season celebrations.

A quiz night at a Sydney pub sparked a new cluster of cases, with 44 customers testing positive for the virus after attending the popular Oxford Tavern in Petersham on November 30.

Authorities are also concerned about 140 passengers who embarked on a Sydney Harbor cruise on Friday evening, which has so far resulted in five cases of the Omicron variant.

More infections are expected, said Marianne Gale, deputy chief health officer for NSW Health.

People who have frequented either location are close contacts and must abide by testing and isolation rules.

A notorious Bondi backpacker hostel was locked out and cordoned off by police Thursday afternoon at the behest of NSW Health.

Noah’s backpackers came under scrutiny early in the pandemic after guests were seen congregating and largely ignoring physical distancing guidelines.

On Thursday afternoon, NSW Health called the police to help them lock down the place.

NSW Health has also issued an alert for a nightclub in Byron Bay, where thousands of teenagers are celebrating schoolchildren.

Anyone who was at Woody’s Surf Shack Night Club on November 30, December 1, December 2, and December 3 between 8 p.m. and 3:30 a.m. is contacted.

Further high transmission events are likely in the coming weeks, Dr Gale said.

“As Christmas approaches and more and more of us come together with families, friends and colleagues to celebrate, it is especially important to be vigilant,” she said.

Gatherings should be held outdoors whenever possible, she said, and people with even mild symptoms should not attend or have visitors.

But Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet calls for “confidence, hope and optimism” before most restrictions end next week.

From December 15, density limits will be removed, QR records will only be required in high-risk locations, and masks will only need to be worn on public transport, airports and airplanes.

The easing comes after the UK once again put tight restrictions in place just months after easing them for the northern summer.

Mr Perrottet said NSW was not on the same path.

“We will always adjust our parameters to the circumstances in which we find ourselves, because it is very clear that we are in a much stronger position in NSW because of our vaccination,” Mr Perrottet said.

New South Wales now has 93% of adults fully vaccinated – just 2% below the target named by chief health worker Kerry Chant.

More than 77% of the state’s youth aged 12 to 15 are fully immunized.

Mr Perrottet said people should not be scaled up by increasing the number of cases or events overseas, but should instead focus on the number of people hospitalized with the virus in NSW, which has remained mostly stable.

There are 151 people hospitalized with COVID-19, 25 of them in intensive care and eight ventilated.

No case of Omicron has been admitted to hospital.

One death was reported Thursday, a fully vaccinated man in his 60s with underlying Lake Macquarie health issues who died in Gosford hospital.

Associated Australian Press

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