Sydney on Alert as Second Cluster of Covid-19 Cases Emerges

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A second cluster of Covid-19 infections has emerged in Sydney, prompting authorities to further tighten restrictions on New Year’s Eve parties in an effort to prevent a wider outbreak.

Eighteen new local cases of the virus were reported overnight, New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters. Nine of those were in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, where the cluster now stands at 138 and some 250,000 people remain under lockdown.

The new cluster in Croydon, a suburb in Sydney’s inner-west, involves six infections in an extended family group, Berejiklian said. With cases expected to grow in coming days, household gatherings across Greater Sydney to celebrate the New Year will be limited to 5 visitors. The maximum size of outdoor gatherings will be reduced to 30 from 50.

“We don’t want New Year’s Eve to be the cause of a super-spreader,” she said. “Our preferred advice is that people just stay home.”

The outbreak is a blow to Australia, which had largely suppressed community transmission through rigorous testing and contact tracing, and by shuttering the international border -- with all returned overseas travelers made to isolate for 14 days in quarantine hotels. Authorities are trying to pinpoint the source of the two clusters.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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