As COVID cases in Greater Sydney decline, infections continue to rise in the Hunter.
For the first time the region has recorded 63 cases in one day — its highest daily increase since the beginning of this outbreak.
More than half of those people were infectious in the community.
Marianne Gale from New South Wales Health said case numbers in Muswellbrook were being monitored “closely”.
“We are looking carefully at the situation and will be making recommendations soon,” she said.
Of today’s new cases, 35 people were infectious in the community, 38 cases are linked and 12 are mystery cases.
There are 482 active cases across the region with 14 people in hospital.
The Newcastle local government area (LGA) recorded the highest increase with 19 new cases, followed closely by Lake Macquarie with 18 and 13 in Maitland.
Six cases were recorded in Maitland, four in Cessnock, and one each in Muswellbrook, Singleton and the Upper Hunter Shire.
“Anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms such as fever, sore throat, cough or shortness of breath, is urged to immediately get tested,” Hunter New England Local Health District (LHD) public health controller David Durrheim said.
“Even people with mild symptoms, such as fatigue.”
Central Coast loses regional status
The Central Coast has been reclassified as part of Greater Sydney as infections continue to climb.
The region was part of Greater Sydney at the start of lockdown but was reclassified as “regional” when the coast was only recording a handful of cases per day.
But in the last few weeks new infections have steadily increased and today the LHD recorded 29 new cases.
It means immunised locals will not be able to travel to regional areas once the state reaches the 70 per cent double vaccination target, but they will be able to travel to Sydney.
Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast Adam Crouch said it was all about the numbers.
“We still have 20 to 30 cases every day, so people should not be moving around unnecessarily,” he said.
Enforcing new rules a worry
Restrictions will begin to ease from October 11 for fully vaccinated people and restrictions for those who are unvaccinated will ease from December 1.
The head of the Hunter’s business chamber says the NSW government’s roadmap is sensible and provides clarity.
“There’s a lot of businesses have absolutely drawn down their own savings, they’re really at the bottom end and if they can’t get a good run up to Christmas the statistics really could be quite depressing,” Business Hunter chief executive Bob Hawes said.
But some are concerned about how they will enforce the rules.
Newcastle hairdresser Leanne Haley said she had been contacted by people keen to book in a cut.
“There’s been lot of calls a lot of texts, people are excited and I’m excited to see all my clients again,” she said.
Ms Haley said she was unsure how she would enforce the rules for unvaccinated people.
“We want to welcome everybody back, but that’s going to be the hardest challenge,” she said.
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