Good News: COVID-19 Numbers Still Remain Low In Sydney, With 15 New Cases Confirmed Overnight

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian shared an update in her daily 11am presser.

NSW has recorded 15 new cases of COVID-19 overnight, all linked to the Avalon cluster in Sydney's Northern Beaches, the state's premier Gladys Berejiklian announced in her daily 11am presser today (Monday). The number is down from Sunday's 30 new recorded cases.

"To date, every single case we've had has been linked to the Avalon cluster, and that's how we want to keep it," Gladys said. "Although, obviously some venues outside of The Northern Beaches have been impacted and there are issues that health officials are going through today."

In the presser, the state's Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant added that "a number" of the 15 new cases had already been isolating before they were found to be positive, thereby avoiding any further spreading of the virus.

More than 38,000 people were tested in the 24 hours before 8pm yesterday. The total case number now linked to the existing cluster is now 83.

Here's everything else you need to know as of today (Monday):

Do they now know where the outbreak originated?

Nope. But while the source is still unknown, the seeding event is believed to have been December 11 at the Avalon RSL, which then transferred to the Avalon Bowling Club. 

It's believed the source was a returned traveller from LA, but in the presser chief health officer Kerry Chant said: "It's not a perfect match with that returned traveller. But it's close."

Is mask-wearing now mandatory in NSW? 

No. Though Gladys did plead with Sydneysiders to wear masks while catching public transport, going shopping or visiting a place or worship, the state govt hasn't made mask-wearing mandatory.

When asked in the presser why that was the case, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said: "What I was saying was the public health officials are recommending that it be used but not make it mandatory at the present time."

"But also buses, for example, if we have bus drivers having to act like police, there is already a level of anxiety for them and we don't want to put them in a situation where they will be policemen and possibly getting into the sorts of fights that might happen with the rare numbers who might be aggressive," Mr Hazzard said.

He stressed the continued need for hand hygiene, maintaining a 1.5m social distance and going to get tested should you have any symptoms similar to that of a cold or flu.

Will Sydney's Northern Beaches lockdown be extended?

Gladys said the five-day lockdown placed on the Northern Beaches, which is due to expire Wednesday night, will be looked at again on Wednesday morning.

"We will consider our position in relation to what Christmas and the next few days look like beyond Wednesday midnight on Wednesday morning," she said.

What are the current restrictions in NSW? 

Currently, only 10 visitors are allowed in NSW homes and a cap of 300 are allowed in hospitality venues and places of worship. Residents are asked not to visit aged care facilities.

Mask-wearing and strict social distancing is urged in all indoor settings outside the home.

As for travelling, Deputy NSW Premier John Barilaro has previously said that Greater Sydney residents should reconsider any travel plans to regional NSW.

"A message for those living in the [the] outer area … of Sydney," he said. "Be mature. Be understanding that you could cause some risk and anxiety, so if you have any symptoms, please get tested. Change your travel plans and maybe not visit regional New South Wales until we get on top of this issue."

What are restrictions looking like for Christmas?

The final call on restrictions in NSW over Christmas will be made on Wednesday morning.

We'll continue to bring you all the updates here.

If your head is a little scrambled, make sure you pop over to WHO.int to get all of your official COVID-19 updates.

Written by Sangeeta Kocharekar, an American-born, Sydney-based writer at MTV. Photos from her pre-COVID-19 days as a travel writer are here.

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