In the 24-hour period between April 26 and 27, only two new cases of Covid-19 were identified from more than 4,000 people tested in NSW, it was announced at the premier’s daily media briefing on April 27. This is the lowest daily total reported since physical distancing measures were first introduced six weeks ago, but this tally is also significant because both of the new cases were traced to either international travel or close contact with a known carrier, meaning that there were no new infections caused by untraceable community transmission in that 24-hour period.
Community transmission, where the infection is spread from person to person in public, is considered to be the most difficult and unpredictable aspect of the viral spread. In other countries, community transmission has led to exponential increases in new cases that have overwhelmed medical infrastructure, but Australia has been highly successful in its containment strategies so far. The federal government’s newly released contact tracing app, CovidSafe, which at the time of publication had already been downloaded by more than 1.13 million people, has been developed specifically to control community transmission. State health authorities across the country have also been steadily increasing testing capacities in recent weeks to more quickly identify carriers who might not be aware that they are spreading the disease.
While future instances of community-acquired infection are highly likely, the absence of any new cases within a 24-hour period – the first time this has happened in NSW since the crisis began – is still highly encouraging. The downturn in the number of new cases in NSW has also been mirrored elsewhere in the country, most notably in South Australia, which today logged its fourth consecutive day without any newly diagnosed cases.
Despite this positive news, both NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian and the state’s chief medical officer, Dr Kerry Chant, urged Sydneysiders not to be complacent about social distancing measures. Plans to relax some of the current restrictions are already underway, but scenes of crowds at beaches and parks over the weekend have also shown how many people in Sydney are already flouting the gathering bans and physical distancing protocols that are still in effect.
Berejiklian echoed sentiments that she has stated in several recent media conferences, that relaxing the current social restrictions will inevitably lead to an increase in cases and deaths, which is why maintaining certain protocols – like physical distancing rules – will likely be required for many more months.
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