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‘Incredible outcome’: Just five new coronavirus cases in NSW despite near-record testing


Health authorities in NSW have confirmed five new coronavirus infections, taking the state’s total to 3,031.

A total of 8,809 people were tested yesterday, the second-highest number of tests completed in NSW in any single 24-hour period.

The record number of tests completed within a 24-hour period came on March 27, when a total of 8,835 tests were performed.

However, March 27 saw a total of 212 confirmed coronavirus cases, compared to just five today.

“We have seen a 40 times better outcome for our community since the end of March,” the state’s Health Minister Brad Hazzard said.

Of the five new cases, Chief Medical Officer Kerry Chant said two were locally acquired cases from a known source, while two were locally acquired from a unknown source and one remained under investigation.

This morning, two staff members were confirmed positive for COVID-19 at Newmarch House in Western Sydney, the facility’s operator said.

This brings the total confirmed cases at the Caddens facility to 61, with 37 residents and 24 staff infected with the virus.

A total of 13 residents have died after contracting coronavirus.

Health authorities are investigating the outbreak at the aged care facility in Sydney’s west, including auditing the infection-control protocol.

Dr Chant confirmed two senior infection-control nurses were deployed to Newmarch House this week to assess procedures.

“There have been some elements where consistent application of practice has not occurred,” Dr Chant said.

“We’re looking at secondary cases and we’ve clearly seen transmission that, on the surface, looks like there’s been breaches of infection control, particularly among the staff.”

Mr Hazzard suggested staff may not have been using personal protective equipment effectively to reduce the transmission of the virus.

“Some of those people may or may not have known exactly how to use the equipment in the most appropriate way,” he said.

“Individuals will still make mistakes [but] I’d rather not go into blaming individuals.”

Anglicare Sydney said in a statement that the additional cases were “very distressing” for residents, their families and staff.

“This is despite us having strict procedures and enforced infection control practices in place,” the statement read.

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When asked about the New Zealand Warriors NRL team’s approved inbound travel to Australia, Dr Chant said there would be “rigid protection” in place for the Tamworth community.

The Warriors will go into quarantine in Tamworth for 14 days after their arrival but will be allowed to train together during that time.

“It’s important that we don’t be seen to show favouritism to any one group over another,” Dr Chant said.

If a player develops symptoms of the virus, Dr Chant said they would enter into isolation, pending any serious medical requirements.

“We will be making sure there is rigid protection to make sure they’re not coming into contact with anyone from the broader community, as it is in our hotels,” she said.

Dr Chant said NSW Pathology had received more rapid testing kits, capable of delivering coronavirus testing results in one hour.

The fast-tracked tests have been used in regional areas of the state, including Broken Hill, Tamworth, Coffs Harbour and Wagga Wagga.

“These have been in short supply and so we’ve had to ration them and prioritise our rural and regional places first,” she said.

“But as we’ve got a bit more secure supply — up around 600 a week — we’re able to make it available more broadly.”

But Dr Chant said the rapid tests would only be rolled out in high-priority places, including aged care and healthcare facilities “where it’s critical to get a diagnosis quickly”.

Mr Hazzard said beauty salons, tanning salons and nail bars would be open for customers to purchase gifts for Mother’s Day next Sunday, but said services at those businesses were not yet available.

Of 3,031 coronavirus cases recorded in NSW, a total of 2,300 have recovered.

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