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Man walking wearing face mask
Photograph: Kate Trifo/Unsplash

Newly released health guidelines in NSW advise wearing a mask in public

Sydneysiders are also advised to avoid public transport and gatherings

By
Maxim Boon
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As the number of daily cases in NSW continues to grow, the state’s health experts have released new guidelines advising Sydneysiders to avoid public transport, avoid ‘non-essential’ gatherings in hospitality and fitness venues and to wear a mask when in public. 

The latest guidelines follow the announcement of more stringent operating rules for hospitality venues in the state, as authorities race to avert a second wave surge in cases. However, the most recent health advice is  voluntary, rather than legally mandated. 

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Jeremy McAnulty said: “People are urged to avoid non-essential travel and gatherings. Of particular concern is transmission in venues such as hotels and restaurants, the gym and social gatherings. Don’t go to the gym unless it is thoroughly cleaned before and after customers by supervising staff or yourself and there is good spacing between machines and customers.” 

Among the venues linked to recent outbreaks in NSW, two gyms have been identified as infection hotspots: the Planet Fitness Gym in Casula and the Anytime Fitness in Merrylands. Both venues have been closed for deep cleaning. McAnulty also suggested that, while the official guidelines permit up to 20 people at a private gathering in a home, people should consider limiting such gatherings to a maximum of ten people.

In the 24-hour reporting period between July 18 to 19, 20 new cases were detected in NSW; however, all of these new cases were linked to existing outbreaks, meaning no new instances of community transmission were found. While this is a hopeful sign, state chief medical officer Dr Kerry Chant revealed that a person in their 30s was now in intensive care, the youngest patient in NSW to require the highest level of medical intervention. 

The state’s health experts remain concerned about the issue of community transmission, which has had a devastating impact on Victoria in recent weeks. To avoid a similar runaway increase in infections, there is a testing blitz underway in NSW, which had been focused on Sydney’s southwest but which is now being expanded citywide. More than 20,000 tests were conducted in the last 24-hour reporting period, McAnulty said, but he urged people from anywhere in New South Wales to be tested if they experience even the mildest symptoms.

“It’s important to note that it’s not just these clusters that we are worried about, with [the virus] being so active, anywhere in NSW. If you have symptoms, don’t hesitate. Come forward to one of the testing clinics, one of the respiratory clinics that the commonwealth has set up,” McAnulty said. “Don’t be shy, come forward for testing. Even if you have been tested before and symptoms recur, come forward for testing again.”

You can find a list of your nearest clinics on the NSW Health website.

As concerns about the spread of the virus in Sydney grow, it is more important than ever that you observe physical distancing and other healthy protocols. Here's our guide to going out safely in Sydney.

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