Mystery continues to surround the original source of Sydney’s growing coronavirus cluster, with health officials admitting it could be a challenge ‘beyond themselves’.
30 additional new cases were recorded on Sunday on the beaches in the north of the city as the group rose to 68.
About 270,000 residents along the peninsula are on lockdown until at least Wednesday evening as a series of temporary restrictions have been reintroduced across the rest of Sydney.
While all of the latest cases are directly linked to the northern beaches, NSW Health contact tracers are still scrambling to locate the source of the outbreak that has ruined the Christmas plans of many Australians.
The coronavirus cluster on Sydney’s northern beaches rose to 68. In the photo, a local resident gets tested at a drive-thru clinic on Sunday
Genomic sequencing suggests that the viral strain associated with the cluster is most closely related to a return traveler who arrived in Sydney from the United States on December 1 infectious before entering hotel quarantine.
But without any explanation as to how he escaped and infiltrated the northern beaches, the full investigation has been stepped up.
“We haven’t identified anyone else who may be the source,” NSW health director Kerry Chant told reporters on Sunday.
“At the moment we are forensic review of all of this individual’s trips to see if there were any points associated with it.
“An intensive investigation is underway and even if we really want to find the source, this may become a challenge beyond us.
“We try to find the case as soon as possible and then link it to anyone who may have come in contact with that person.
“We have to keep an open mind because there may be an unknown source.
A series of temporary restrictions have been reintroduced in the Sydney metropolitan area as the northern beach cluster expands. In the photo, women disembark from a ferry in Manly on Friday.
Weather and authorities’ advice on staying at home left Manly’s generally bustling waterfront (pictured) deserted on Saturday, hours before the area was closed.
Contract tracers are flocking to the CCTV footage in a desperate effort to trace the original source.
“We have set up a team and are monitoring. at any time, 10 or 20 leads of investigation and we are pursuing them all simultaneously, ”said Dr Chant.
“Nobody wants to get to the bottom of this more than myself, because if I understand the clear chains of transmission, I can better inform the government of the risk.
“The problem we have right now is that I don’t know how we got there, so I don’t know the person or where they were.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant (pictured on Sunday) admitted finding the original source may be a challenge beyond health authorities
Dr Chant insisted that no one who had been granted quarantine exemptions, including international flight crews, had tested positive for the virus.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard added: “There are no positive cases of the process. “
“The only link missing here at the moment is who was the original source of this virus overseas. Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian has tightened restrictions for Greater Sydney and the Central Coast, fearing the epidemic could spread.
From 11:59 p.m. Sunday to 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, all residents of Greater Sydney can only have a maximum of 10 people in their home.
There are also new restrictions for venues, including a ceiling of 300 people, a one person per four square meters rule, and a ban on singing and dancing.
There was also a massive queue for testing in the eastern outskirts of Bondi on Sunday
New restrictions for Sydneysiders
· Household gatherings will be limited to 10 visitors (until 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, December 23).
· The one person per four square meters rule will be reintroduced for all indoor environments, including reception areas and places of worship.
· A ceiling of 300 people will apply for places of reception and places of worship.
· Singing and singing in the interior rooms will not be allowed.
· Dance floors will not be allowed, except for weddings, when a maximum of 20 people from the wedding party will be allowed.