A s Sydney is approaching four weeks of lockdown, the number of infectious Covid cases in the community - which experts say must reach near zero before restrictions can be relaxed - remains stubbornly high.
Thursday, 124 new local cases were announced in Nouvelle South Wales , and up to 80 of them were active in the community during all or part of their infectious period. The day before, 110 new local infections were announced, of which 60 were active in the community for part or all of their infectious period.
"This is a key number that we are very keen to lower, and a key indicator of risk to the community at all times, so it is a significant number, "Dr Jeremy McAnulty, said the executive director of the Covid-19 public health response arm of NSW Health.
McAnulty told Guardian Australia that while most of those tested as soon as they felt symptoms, others waited too long in the hopes that the symptoms would pass and not be linked to Covid. Retirement homes, construction sites and supermarkets are to be found.us of the places people visit when they are infectious, he says.
The infectious period for Covid-19 is 14 days - calculated from two days before the onset of symptoms, or, if anyone has no symptoms, from two days before the positive test.
"So , those two days before the apparition, they "I probably did what they were allowed to do while in lockdown: buy essential goods and go out for essential work," McAnulty says.
Guardian Australia requested a breakdown of the types of locations visited during the ious infection, and although McAnulty did not have this information, he said "in general, we have had transmission in some supermarkets, we have had transmission in workplaces, we have had transmission in families, and we have had transmission in healthcare establishmentss for the elderly, and we had transmission on construction sites the previous days as well. ”
McAnulty says the majority of infectious people in the community don't were not vaccinated. He adds that most people were doing the right thing and those who violated the restrictions were mostly not doing it on purpose or maliciously.
"I think there are so many posts for people to follow, sometimes it's easy to get lost in all of this," he said. "But one of the key messages is, even though we're locked -out, even if you are allowed to go out to work, or to the supermarket, or to exercise, then in all of these cases just assume that you or the person you might be interacting with Covid and therefore act accordingly. "
" So keep your distance, wear a mask, stay at least one meter away andhalf away from them. I noticed that maybe people seemed to have forgotten these key messages that we have been pushing for so long. "
The Premier of New South Wales on Thursday Gladys Berejiklian said at the conference of daily press: "Unfortunately we have recurring cases of people showing symptoms and coming to work thinking they are not contagious ... then we have people who think they are symptom free and visit to people outside their homes and spread it.
Asked if it would be helpful if people had more clearly defined rules regarding metrics like the -port mask, as a mandate similar to Victoria where masks must be worn outside the house at all times , including outdoors, said McAnulty: "In my observation and talking to people, I don't think wearing the mask is the problem. "
" We know the drivetrain is much less likely outdoors, and the drivetrain indoors is much higher, "he said. he said.
But Mary-Louise McLaws, professor of public health and adviser to the World Health Organization (WHO), said NSW has need clearer and more stringent mask wearing rules that "take away the luxury of interpretation " and more easily accommodate delta deviations, as seen at outdoor sporting events in Victoria.
"We have had five deaths with this Delta outbreak in New South Wales now, and over 1,653 cases, "she said.
" We have a duty to diligence not only to ourselves, but to everyone around us. People just don't get it and I don't blame them. Because they think if they are outside they are fine and don 't have to wear a mask. The rules are not well explained, including why they are asked to put on a mask.
McLaws says that masks are not the key measure, but given that this tension is more contagious than any other, it makes sense to use all of them tools available to NSW residents.
"I would just say even if you pass someone for a fleeting moment, wear a mask, even at outside, even at a great distanceless than 1.5m. "
Asked what proportion of people who were in the community during their infectious period were symptomatic, McAnulty says that " in the 'together most people are symptomatic ".
" It's understandable in human nature, people don't want to ... it's a disadvantage to get tested, ”he said. He agreed that some people have delayed the test hoping their symptoms will go away.
"We want people to act very differently during this pandemic ", a he declared. “Normally they say, if you have a cold, you know, you don't have to go to a doctor. But let's completely reverse this message during the pandemic, we absolutely want you to get tested even with the mildest symptoms. So don 't hesitate. And don't be embarrassed to introduce yourself several times fors tests.
"But it's human nature, people don't want to disturb others. "
Pressed why Victoria was able to reduce the proportion of infectious cases in the community as New South Wales was struggling, says McAnulty:“ I don't know not Melbourne as well, but I think that 's the nature of the number of cases and contacts we have, and we just need to work on it, find the cases early and get these key messages out to the community ” .
He hopes the impact of the lockdown will start to be reflected in lower numbers in the coming days, provided people adhere to public health measures .
"We work around the clock," he says. "These measures worked the an last. This year we almost have a new virus, it's so contagious. It is easily transmitted in families, in the workplace. It 's so much harder to contain. So it will take some time to see the numbers drop. We put in laws, but if people understand and obey those rules, which are really hard and impractical, we can crush this thing. "
Urgently needed vaccinations for all essential workers
A professor of epidemiology at the University of Sydney Alexandra Martinuik says she has a clear understanding of where people are in the community while it is infectious and why it is there is crucial in determining whether current restrictions are sufficient to control the outbreak.
"We could really use more details about this from NSW Health," says Martinuik, who is alsoHonorary Research Fellow at the George Institute for Global Health.
"It would obviously require anonymous data, but at least that would provide more detail. Are they casual contacts of a known case? Do close contacts not isolate well, and if so, what do they need to isolate well? Have they ever tested negative and how many days ago? "
Martinuik says the public also needs more details on why the people had not requested a test earlier if they had done symptoms while in the community.
"If the person is showing symptoms, what are the reasons she has not ordered a test yet? "she says." Do people who have been vaccinated need to be more vigilant about the potential that they are positive and might not have symptoms?
"Increasing the capacity and speed of testing could also help reduce the number of positive Covid cases in the community and the length of time they are infectious in the community. Home testing, or workplace testing, could be helpful in these times.
Understanding where people are spreading the virus in the community could lead authorities to put more emphasis on services like click-and-collect in grocery stores and pharmacists, she said.
"We may need to improve ventilation in these settings, and wearing an appropriate mask may apply. improve, with some people wear them under their noses. I've heard of people who "walk around the grocery store " for their last meals every day, or shopping as something to do, so they go there every day. This of course increases interactions and riskss for everyone, and people should ideally shop as infrequently as they can manage.
McLaws agreed with Martinuik that more detailed information is needed on the most problematic infection areas in the community. "And unfortunately, we may have to switch to a curfew system for this variant if we can't understand how and where people catch and spread this in the community," McLaws says.
She says supermarket workers, gas station workers and pharmacy workers should be priority groups for immunization, as health officials have said people were in these environments while they were infectious.
"These workers should be able to get tested regularly and be vaccinated as priority groups, and these vaccines and tests should be brought and administered to their workplace to make it easier for them, ”she says.