Are the harshest measures yet enough to get Sydney out of lockdown?
Concerns are growing that even the latest measures, described by the Premier as the "harshest Australia has ever faced", won't be enough to properly contain the rampaging Delta variant.
It's a warning Sydneysiders have become painfully used to in recent weeks: Australia's biggest city's coronavirus emergency is likely to get worse before it gets better.
The depressing message was hammered home on Thursday — five weeks into lockdown — as Premier Gladys Berejiklian fronted the media to declare 239 new local cases, at least 66 of whom were infectious in the community, and the deaths of two more unvaccinated COVID-19 patients.
It will be reinforced again on Friday as the first of 300 Australian Defence Force personnel hit the ground to help fortify what was already a heightened police presence.
But concerns are growing that even the latest measures, described by Ms Berejikilian as the "harshest Australia has ever faced" and set to last until at least August 28, won't be enough to properly contain the rampaging Delta variant.
UNSW Adjunct Professor Bill Bowtell and Fairfield Mayor Frank Carbone the growing outbreak was a Sydney-wide problem not contained to the eight worst-hit council areas.
The health policy expert said the latest restrictions should have come into force five to six weeks ago and disputed the Premier's dual claims that there was no rulebook for COVID-19 and that her restrictions were the harshest yet seen.
"It (the rulebook) was written under terrible circumstances in Melbourne a year ago and that rulebook was applied in Victoria and in South Australia very effectively in the last few weeks to bring their Delta outbreaks under control," he said.
He called for a new, "all of Sydney" approach after six weeks of "doing what hasn't worked", warning the virus did not respect local government area boundaries.
"Harsh measures when the virus is rampaging through Sydney, as it is now, well it is a bit too late; we've got to do a lot better," he said.
Cr Carbone agreed, pointing out that 71 of the cases announced on Thursday were outside the eight hotspot LGAs.
"This isn't just a Fairfield problem," he said.
"What we do know is that tens of thousands of people leave Fairfield and the eight LGAs every single day, and tens of thousands of people come into the LGA every single day."
Thousands of lockdown complaints
Police, armed with new powers to close down businesses flouting public health orders, have been flooded with thousands of community complaints against individuals.
The Defence personnel arrive on Friday before spending the weekend training and linking up with thousands of NSW Police officers on Monday.
"We all want to come out of lockdown," Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said on Thursday.
"These new powers, the additional police into these areas, it's about getting us out of lockdown sooner."
But Cr Carbone wasn't sure sending in the troops was the right approach, arguing they would be more easily welcomed in contact tracing and operations rather than out in the community.
"The community has been fighting this for six weeks, we (would) much rather do what we have to do, let's get on with our life, let's beat this virus together, but it needs to be across the whole of Sydney," he said, questioning whether Ms Berejiklian had a plan.
"There's no use eradicating the virus in half of Sydney and letting the virus spread in the other half of Sydney."
Ms Berejiklian said lockdown restrictions and higher vaccination rates were needed to get out of the other side and that the government was speaking with community leaders to help influence their constituents.
"The evidence is there. If you want to protect those you love the most, not only do you need to respect the health orders, but also encourage vaccination," Ms Beriklian said, adding that she wasn't aware of anyone in intensive care who had been fully vaccinated.
But Adjunct Professor Bowtell said while it was important for every adult to get vaccinated, they were not a short-term solution to the problem.
Infectious diseases expert Robert Booy painted a much more positive picture.
He is confident the city is set for a "major improvement", saying the curve has been flattened and pointing to similarities with Taiwan's apparently successful recent battle with the Delta variant.
"It's already working, but there's too much mixing of people," he told Today on Thursday.
"It's pretty simple."