Record daily cases in NSW today with 124 new infections
Fears are being realised that the state is going backwards in its fight against the Delta variant after nearly a month in lockdown.
New South Wales has recorded 124 locally acquired cases COVID-19 today, the highest daily figures seen during the current outbreak.
Worryingly, 48 of those were infectious in the community.
Queensland has acted swiftly, closing its border to all of NSW from 1am tomorrow.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian has said a further 22 of those infected were only partially isolated.
It comes amid a record testing number of more than 85,000 tests.
'Cases will continue to go up'
In another grim prediction, Ms Berejiklian has forecast the state's coronavirus cases will continue to rise beyond today's record number.
"There's no doubt, again, that we anticipate case numbers will continue to go up before they start coming down and we need to brace ourselves for that," she said.
"It does mean more presentations to hospital."
She said that fears around the virus spilling over from its current epicentre in Fairfield to the surrounding council areas of Canterbury-Bankstown and Cumberland have been realised.
"We're asking for people in those communities to be alert and come forward for testing," she said.
'Households on households' becoming infected
Ms Berejiklian said contact tracers are continuing to uncover instances of individuals spreading COVID-19 to their extended families by visiting other households.
"Unfortunately, when our health experts are interviewing families within households, we're learning that they have visited families in other households and the disease is spreading through that way," she said.
"I can't stress enough how distressing it is for us when we uncover entire families who've got the virus who have unknowingly or unwittingly given it to their extended family members.
"Households on households of loved ones just from one worker or person bringing it home to the rest of their families.
"It's cruel how contagious this virus is."
She again urged all of Greater Sydney to stay at home and avoid visiting loved ones in their homes unless absolutely necessary.
'It's spreading like we've never seen before'
Ms Berejiklian said the two main areas of COVID-19 transmission in Sydney's outbreak continue to be households and workplaces, but NSW Health was uncovering more cases within retail settings.
"We're finding that when people are going to buy their groceries or going to the pharmacist or other critical retail… the disease is spreading," she said.
"Recent cases have demonstrated it's not just between workers, which it was before.
"Workers and patrons are picking up the disease and taking it home to their families.
"It's spreading like we've never seen before."
No one in ICU in NSW with both vaccine doses
The premier has again urged residents to come forward and get vaccinated, noting that the vaccines are very effective in preventing serious illness.
"There's nobody currently in Intensive Care who has had both doses of vaccine at any age," she said.
"That means the vaccine works in preventing serious illness.
"We really need people to remember that and feel confidence when they're getting vaccinated."https://twitter.com/NSWHealth/status/1418013621783728129
New areas of concern across NSW
Dr Jeremy McAnulty has highlighted the latest areas of concern where the virus is circulating in the community.
They are as follows: the Cumberland LGA including Merrylands and Guildford, Toongabbie, Seven Hills, Pendle Hill, Mount Druitt, Rooty Hill, Wollongong, the Fairfield LGA, Liverpool and Bankstown, Narwee, Campsie and Earlwood, Georges River, Bayside, Sutherland, Haymarket, Coffs Harbour and Orange in regional NSW.
Today's figure of 124 new cases brings the total number of community infections since the outbreak began to 1,648.
There were 85,185 tests conducted across the state yesterday – a record number.
There are now 118 hospitalised with the virus across the state, including 28 in ICU.
Fourteen of these people require ventilation.
Yesterday, there were 110 new cases with more than half active in the community for at least part of their infectious period.
It marked a significant spike from earlier in the week when infections appeared to be slowly going down.
Overnight, a long list of new close contact exposure sites was released by NSW Health, including a Woolworths on Sydney's northern beaches and a supermarket in Merrylands where infectious individuals spent several days.
'Nothing like we've seen before'
The premier has addressed questions over a potential harsher lockdown for Greater Sydney, noting that most new infections were stemming from critical activities such as essential care and shopping.
She also again stipulated that the state would need to wait until early next week to see the results of new, harsher measures implemented last weekend.
"I think people are quite shocked as to how different and contagious the Delta strain is," Ms Berejiklian said.
"It's nothing like we've ever seen before. It's affecting and impacting people in many different ways."
Over 55 per cent of NSW residents with the Delta strain are under the age of 55.
"So this is a very, very different and more contagious strain than we've seen," the premier said.
She again urged people not to stop to have a conversation while out doing essential shopping or work.
"We really need your help – all of us have to work together."
'Delta has beaten every single jurisdiction in the world'
Ms Berejiklian has admitted that the wildly infectious Delta variant is creating a huge new challenge in tackling the virus worldwide.
"There's no doubt that Delta has beaten every single jurisdiction in the world," she said.
"But that's why we've always said in NSW that we want to get close to zero in terms of numbers of people infectious in the community. We appreciate that cases are going to keep popping up during Delta."
She said that this meant some level of restrictions would have to remain in place across the state until vaccination rates increased.
"That is the reality that the whole world is facing.
"I'm looking forward to the day that I can, with confidence, tell us we're on the decline but we're not there yet. In fact, I suspect they'll get worse before they get better."
NSW Health, police 'working closely to tighten anything we can'
The premier has reassured concerned citizens that those trying to do the right thing and adhere to lockdown rules won't get in trouble.
"But the handful of people who are knowingly doing the wrong thing, are not only compromising their own safety and wellbeing but those of others," Ms Berejiklian said.
"Police and health officials are working closely to tighten anything we can to ensure compliance."
"When you do the wrong thing, you'll have everything thrown at you."
Aged care workers 'not vaccinated'
Dr McAnulty said aged care centre staff where outbreaks have been recorded had not been vaccinated.
"So there's been an outbreak in two aged care facilities, The Palm residential aged care facility in Kirrawee, where we've tested a staff member who has tested positive," he said.
"This person wasn't vaccinated and the residents and staff have been tested. Two staff members at an aged care facility in Belrose have tested positive.
"Again, we are testing other staff and residents at the facility. There are five people at Unison Disability Parklea group home who have tested positive, including three residents and two staff members.
"The public health unit has been investigating, making sure other people are tested, isolated and cared for.
"The workers at the aged care facilities were not vaccinated. But the workers and the residents at the disability home had received one dose of vaccine."
The Palms in Kirrawee confirmed is in lockdown this morning after one of its employees was diagnosed with the virus late last night.
All visitors and non-essential staff are banned from entering the home until further notice.
In a statement, The Palms said: "Out of an abundance of caution, we are treating all residents as close contacts of the affected staff member whilst we assess the situation in more detail.
"Staff will be implementing strict infection control measures, and carefully monitoring residents for any symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath.
"Residents, and affected staff, will be tested on-site within the next 24hrs."
All residents are currently in isolation awaiting testing with the assistance of the Public Health Unit.
A fence is now in place around the facility, a ring of steel to guard against any unwanted visitors.
"We recognise this is a difficult time for families and friends, but we are committed to providing the latest information and updates, and alternative methods of connecting with their loved ones such as via the CareApp, Facetime, email and phone," Operations Manager Mathew Hafford said in a statement.
If you're struggling during this difficult time, there is 24/7 support available via the on 1300 22 4636 or contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or via .