Coronavirus updates LIVE: Sydney remains on high alert before Christmas as northern beaches cluster grows

Summary

  • NSW reported eight new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. Seven were linked to the Avalon cluster and one to a nurse in western Sydney.
  • Almost 140 venues in Sydney are on the watch list following the contact tracing blitz.
  • NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has denounced other states for shutting their borders to Sydney residents.
  • Thousands of virus detectives, lab technicians and healthcare workers are working around the clock to quash the cluster threatening Sydney’s Christmas.
  • Sydneysiders will learn on Wednesday whether restrictions will change across the city in time for Christmas Day.

NSW outbreak has similar numbers to the early days of Melbourne's second wave

The number of new COVID-19 infections in NSW's northern beaches cluster is similar to those seen in the early days of Melbourne's second wave outbreak in June. But does that mean NSW is in for a similar ride?

It’s a complicated question, but looking into the data from NSW over the past week alongside Victoria's figures from June, can help answer it.

However, there are many other factors at play that determine the spread of the virus, and the data can only give us the current snapshot of where NSW is at. It should not be used to extrapolate what might happen next.

Read more here. 

Sydneysiders to learn whether restrictions will change for Christmas Day

Sydneysiders will learn on Wednesday whether restrictions will change across the city in time for Christmas Day, after new cases in NSW dropped to single digits on Tuesday.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian will be under pressure to ease some restrictions but the continued success of suppressing community transmission of the virus is expected to be paramount.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, with NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant in the foreground. Credit:Sam Mooy

"There’s also an element of holding your nerve if you have confidence in your processes, if you have confidence in your strategy, you do also take that into account," Ms Berejiklian said.

The Premier has resisted calls to mandate the use of face masks throughout the pandemic, despite their use on public transport sitting at just over 30 per cent this week.

"Given where we are now, we believe very strongly – and I’ve used this word a lot in the last few days – in having a proportionate response to what we’re experiencing," she said.

"Clearly, if the case numbers were going in the opposite direction, we’d look at all the settings."

We'll bring you the latest news from Berejiklian's press conference, which is likely to be held mid-morning, as soon as it happens

NSW Health adds more venues to alert list

Lates on Tuesday night, NSW Health released new and updated times that venues were visited by people with confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Those venues include Westfield Bondi Junction, Westfield Warringah Mall, Woolworths Metro Cronulla, Pittwater Place, Coles Newport, Coles Mona Vale, Fitness First Mona Vale, Coles in Turramurra, Charlie & Franks in St Leonards, Scoop Wholefoods in Mona Vale and Mosman, as well as other stores across the city.

You can view the full list below, or on the NSW Health website.

BioNTech says it is highly likely its COVID-19 vaccine can handle mutation

Drug makers including BioNTech and Moderna are scrambling to test their COVID-19 vaccines against the new fast-spreading variant of the virus that is raging in Britain, the latest challenge in the breakneck race to curb the pandemic.

But there is some promising news: Ugur Sahin, chief executive of Germany's BioNTech, said overnight it was "highly likely" that its vaccine developed in partnership with Pfizer will provide an immune response against the new variant.

BioNTech said it was highly likely its vaccine, developed with partner Pfizer, would provide protection against the new virus strain.Credit:AP

"The vaccine contains more than 1270 amino acids, and only 9 of them are changed (in the mutant virus). That means that 99 per cent of the protein is still the same," he said.

Tests are ongoing and, even if Sahin's theory proves incorrect, he said scientists could engineer a vaccine which completely mimics the new mutation within six weeks.

You can read the full story here.

NSW Premier denounces states for border closures

Good morning and welcome to our continuing live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

Before we get started with today's news, let's quickly recap some of the major developments from Tuesday:

  • NSW recorded eight new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. Seven were linked to the Avalon cluster and one to a nurse in western Sydney.
  • NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian denounced other states for overreactions to Sydney’s coronavirus outbreak as they shut their borders to Sydney residents despite there being fewer than 10 locally transmitted cases on Tuesday.
  • The list of places that people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 have visited continued to grow, and now includes Westfield shopping centres in Bondi Junction and Warringah Mall as casual contact areas.
  • Victoria recorded one new locally acquired case on Tuesday, from a returned traveller who visited the northern beaches. It was the state's first locally acquired case in 53 days.
  • Antarctica recorded COVID-19 cases for the first time at a Chilean base there, meaning the pandemic has now reached every continent on the planet.



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