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Coronavirus disaster: Sydney, Melbourne batten down for dour New Year’s Eve

While Sydney and Melbourne batten down for a grim end to 2020, Perth is gearing up to welcome the New Year in style.

Sydney police will be out in force keen to stop New Year’s Eve becoming a super-spreader event.

Victoria, which had gone more than 60 days without a locally-transmitted infection, also has a new challenge on its hands with three fresh cases revealed on Wednesday evening.

NSW recorded 18 locally-acquired infections in the 24 hours to 8pm on Tuesday – nine of them connected to Sydney’s northern beaches, which remains under local lockdown.

However it was the detection of a new unsourced cluster of six cases at inner- western Croydon which sounded alarm bells. What seemed to be an isolated case in Wollongong has also become two.

The latest NSW cases have prompted a limit to indoor New Year’s Eve gatherings across greater Sydney to five people. The city’s foreshore has already been closed off to firework watchers.

As Australians prepare to bid 2020 good riddance, Sydney police will be out in force on New Year’s Eve.
Camera IconAs Australians prepare to bid 2020 good riddance, Sydney police will be out in force on New Year’s Eve. Credit: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

The Victorian Government was urging people not to head into Melbourne on Thursday night unless they had a hospitality booking even before Wednesday’s bad news.

This is in stark contrast to Perth, where thousands of revellers are expected to pack bars, streets and the main centres around the city tonight.

Australian Hotels Association WA chief executive Bradley Woods said because of capacity limits, most venues were already fully booked.

“The fact that we can gather in ways that no one else can, people are feeling very special about it,” he said.

The nation’s chief medical officer, Paul Kelly, said he believed NSW would squash the coronavirus outbreak.

“NSW Health right throughout this pandemic have been our poster people, if you like, in relation to their contact tracing,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

“It’s always amazing how quickly they get onto things and how quickly they work through what are sometimes very complex chains of transmission and get very detailed genomic analysis.”

Australia’s chief medical officer, Paul Kelly, said he believed NSW would squash the coronavirus outbreak.
Camera IconAustralia’s chief medical officer, Paul Kelly, said he believed NSW would squash the coronavirus outbreak. Credit: Sam Mooy/Getty Images

Dr Kelly also said he was confident the nation’s hotel quarantine system would prevent the newly-arrived and highly contagious South African virus variant entering the community.

It’s been revealed a woman carrying the 501.V2 strain arrived in Brisbane on December 22.

The Northern Territory on Wednesday added to its list of barred residents from Sydney suburbs and said it was awaiting the results of a third suspected COVID-19 case among the crew of a cattle export ship recently arrived fro Indonesia.

Eslewhere, Labor is again calling for the establishment of a national quarantine centre to expedite the return of stranded Australians overseas.

“Those decision also have to be thought through carefully over the coming months as to how that will be handled,” Dr Kelly said.

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