'Most critical' time, aged care home in Sydney's inner west closes to visitors

Jul 23, 2020

By SBS Australia 

An aged care home in Sydney's inner west was closed to visitors Wednesday and its staff and residents are being tested after a staff member tested positive to COVID-19.

New South Wales health confirmed that the member had dined at the Thai Rock restaurant in Wetherill Park.

"The risk to other staff and residents is considered to be low as the staff member wore masks, globes and gowns when working with residents and did not work while symptomatic," NSW health said.

"Sydney Local Health District is working closely with the home to provide information and support."

Management of the home says it's taking all necessary precautions, including closing to visitors until at least 31 July. Families can still arrange access on a case by case basis.

"Nothing is more important to us than the care and wellbeing of our residents and staff," they said.

'Next few weeks are the most critical'

NSW is facing the most critical stage of the COVID-19 pandemic since the initial late-March lockdown, with the premier warning businesses they will have the book thrown at them if they don't comply with safety guidelines.

The state recorded 16 new COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Tuesday including one in hotel quarantine, three linked to the Crossroads Hotel in Casula and 11 associated with the Thai Rock restaurant.

The total number of cases linked to the Crossroads Hotel cluster has now reached 53, and 37 cases are associated with the Thai Rock outbreak.

The new cases confirmed on Wednesday also include a case previously reported on Tuesday - a man in his 60s in the Port Stephens area who was infected by a visitor from Sydney.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it was reassuring there were no new strains of coronavirus popping up across the state but remained concerned about the extent of community transmission.

"The next few weeks are the most critical in NSW since the lockdown earlier in March and April," she told reporters on Wednesday.

"We are not out of the woods yet, quite the opposite ... We have some level of anxiety regarding the extent of community transmission.

People have been urged to avoid crowds, limit non-essential travel and be extra cautious over the next few weeks to limit further spread of the virus.

Ms Berejiklian said businesses are also on notice as a new suite of COVID-19 measures come into place on Friday to ensure compliance with social distancing and other safety guidelines.

"Any business which doesn't do the right thing will have the book thrown at them," she said.

"There is so much at stake and so much on the line."

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant reiterated residents across the state need to be extra cautious as authorities work to "mop up" the community transmission that's occurred in recent weeks.

"What we're attempting to do is put the fences up and contain it," she told reporters.

It comes as tougher border restrictions come into force for people wanting to enter NSW from Victoria, including a border zone set up along the Murray River.

The new restrictions began at midnight, with cross-border travel permitted solely for work, education, medical care, supplies or health services.

Among the changed requirements, staff or students at boarding schools or universities must self-isolate for two weeks and obtain a negative virus swab while seasonal workers from Victoria are barred entry.

Transport Workers Union NSW secretary Richard Olsen said the cancellation of previous travel permits and the need to reapply had caused "confusion, anxiety and angst" in the transport industry on Tuesday.

"Drivers are already under pressure, with the squeeze on the transport industry as a critical service during this pandemic," Mr Olsen said in a statement.

"The NSW government must do better and allow for drivers to plan ahead so they can continue the provision of an essential critical service."

The post about “'Most critical' time, aged care home in Sydney's inner west closes to visitors" first appeared on the SBS Australia website.

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