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NSW reports record 3057 new cases, two deaths amid calls for masks rethink


New South Wales has reported a daily record 3057 new coronavirus cases and two deaths for the past 24 hours amid calls for the state government to rethink its mask policy.

There are 284 patients in hospital and 39 requiring intensive care.

There were 136,972 coronavirus tests carried out over the past 24 hours.

COVID-19 drive-through testing at Fairfield Showground. (Wolter Peeters)

A man in his 80s from Sydney’s south died at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

He had received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and had underlying health conditions.

A woman in her 70s from the Central West died at the Gosling Creek Aged Care facility, where she acquired her infection.

She was not vaccinated and had underlying health conditions.

Today’s figures were released as NSW Dominic Perrottet was urged to reimpose mandatory face masks for some settings amid surging COVID-19 cases in the state.

The Royal Australia College of Physicians (RACP) is the latest to call on state and territory governments to maintain and reintroduce some COVID-19 restrictions to stop the spread of the virus around Christmas.

The RACP is encouraging governments to reintroduce (or maintain) mandatory mask-wearing, particularly indoors and when unable to physically distance, reintroduce (or maintain) mandatory QR code check-ins across all public venues and events, and restrict numbers of people at indoor public venues and events for a few weeks until the risks of the Omicron variant are better understood.

“While we don’t want to see families separated and communities impacted in the festive season, we are also wary of the increasing COVID-19 case numbers in states like NSW,” RACP President and respiratory physician Professor John Wilson said.

“If not checked a surge in cases will further burden our already exhausted health systems due to an overwhelming rise in hospitalisations.

“The relaxation of restrictions in some jurisdictions, especially those associated with mask-wearing, QR code check-ins and large gatherings, can have dire consequences.”

‘I don’t think we can leave this just to personal choice’

Earlier, Doherty Institute director Sharon Lewin told Today the reintroduction of some public health measures, such as mask mandates, were needed to curb a major rise in coronavirus cases.

“The next days are really quite important and the additional intervention of universal mask-wearing indoors can make a big impact with very little disruption,” Professor Lewin said.

Mr Perrottet yesterday insisted his government is treating residents “like adults” as he continued to push back against calls for renewed COVID-19 restrictions.

He has urged residents to wear masks in some venues but unlike other states and territories has not made it mandatory.

A health expert says NSW residents need clear and consistent advice on face masks. (Anne Kucera/Sydney Morning Herald)
Dominic Perrottet
Dominic Perrottet insists his policy on easing restrictions is about ‘treating people as adults’. (Nine)

Professor Lewin said it was important for governments to give the public “clear and consistent advice”.

“People need really clear guidelines, otherwise it gets very confusing … I don’t think we can leave this just to personal choice at this stage,” she said.

Mr Perrottet yesterday called on NSW to “stand strong” as high case numbers continue.

“I appreciate, as premier, there is concern in the community. But now is our time to stand up, stand tall, and take care of each other,” he said.

“We are treating the people of our state like adults.”



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