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Regions on alert as NSW records four cases

Regional NSW is on alert after a young man travelled thousands of kilometres through the state then tested positive for COVID-19.

The 18-year-old Berala man visited Orange, Nyngan and Broken Hill in the state’s central and western regions after visiting the bottle shop at the centre of a recent cluster on Christmas Eve. His case was identified on Tuesday morning. Swabs from his camping mates are being analysed on Tuesday.

Visitors to Orange’s Birdie Noshery and Nyngan’s Riverside Tourist Park may need to be tested, with more regional venues likely to be subject to alerts.

The case comes on top of four locally acquired infections recorded in the 24 hours to 8pm Monday.

Two had already been described by authorities: a man in his 50s who visited the Berala BWS bottle shop on Christmas Eve and a woman in her 40s who visited the adjoining Woolworths but not the BWS. That woman’s husband had visited the BWS, but has tested negative. The BWS cluster now totals 15 cases.

The other two cases are household contacts of previously identified cases in Berala and Croydon.

Some 26,391 people were tested in the 24-hour period, up from 22,275 the previous day.

Acting Premier John Barilaro said it was a “nice number” but needed to be at 30,000 or 40,000.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Monday urged multicultural community leaders in the Berala area to encourage testing.

“The community around Berala is a very vibrant, multicultural part of Sydney….What I would ask is that community leaders step forward and make sure your particular community hears the message. You know best how to reach out to each of these community,” he said.

Mr Hazzard reminded the public that COVID tests are free for all.

People from Berala and surrounding suburbs face a $1000 fine if they attend the upcoming test at the SCG, with a public health order to be signed in the next 24 hours, Mr Hazzard said.

“It is essential that people from those suburbs do not attend this test,” he warned.

Health authorities have struggled to directly contact the thousands of people affected by broad alerts for the BWS and Woolworths at Berala. They have been forced to use credit card and rewards card data as QR codes are not mandatory in shops.

Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant appealed to Berala residents to prompt family, friends and colleagues to be tested if they had visited the shops.

Health investigators are poring over CCTV from the shopping centre to establish whether transmission occurred in the Woolworths.

A Cronulla woman who was identified as a close contact but breached the isolation order multiple times while holidaying in Byron was chided by the health minister on Tuesday.

The woman has told media she tested negative twice.

“If you’ve been told to self-isolate for 14 days, that’s done for a solid public health reason. Simply getting a couple of tests does not cut it,” Mr Hazzard said.

On top of alerts for Woolworths and the BWS, NSW Health has recently issued alerts for the Earlwood Bardwell Park RSL, Auburn’s Reading Cinema, and Woolworths and OKS Beauty and Hair in Lidcombe, all in western Sydney.

Sydney’s new mask regime came into force on Monday, with police able to issue $200 fines to those not wearing masks in most indoor settings.

Police had issued no fines by Monday afternoon.

The northern part of the northern beaches peninsula, where the cluster of 148 infected people has not grown for the past two days, will remain under stay-at-home orders until at least Saturday.

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