Decision on the lockdown in Newcastle and the Hunter to be made on Thursday

NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro has said a decision on whether or not the lockdown will end in Newcastle and the Hunter this weekend will be made on Thursday.

The Hunter has been in lockdown since August 5, and could come out this weekend August 28.

The delta outbreak in the region grew to 163 cases yesterday after two additional COVID-19 cases reported in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday night.

The Deputy Premier told regional media yesterday it will all depend on the health advice, and the data over the next couple of days.

“They are fluctuating numbers,”

“What I’ve said previously is the criteria won’t just be active cases, it’ll be sewerage surveillance, neighbouring LGAs will all be taken into account about threat and risk. That’s what we will be identifying,” said the Deputy Premier.

“I would like to see some more data tomorrow and Wednesday and then say something Thursday, I want to give the region’s every chance to get out including the Hunter region to get out of lockdown so I’ll give it to Wednesday with the data and then we will make a decision which I will take to crisis cabinet and get the health advice and see where we land.”

On how the John Hunter Hospital is coping with more than 30 cases in hospital either recovering or with COVID-19, the Deputy Premier said the system is coping really well.

“It’s coping well. I have to say the local health district, the Hunter New England Local Health District is probably one of the best performing networks that I’ve seen in the regions in relation to this recent outbreak. Not only have they been able to manage their resources while also servicing other parts of the state with what occurred in Tamworth and Armidale and then the case we had in Kempsy, but they were really able to deal with the threat that was coming out of Newcastle and the Hunter region.”

“Remember only a couple of weeks ago we were reporting cases above 10 and 20 a day, now anywhere in the world and what we’ve seen in Dubbo and Sydney where this originally started with 11 cases, it’s rare that you go back and you’re able to contain it. What we’ve seen in the Hunter, we’ve contained it as best as fingers crossed to this day and it might be the only jurisdiction possibly in the world that can get back to zero and no one has done that with Delta,” he said.

Given there are still cases being recorded every day, the Deputy Premier did try to not get the region’s hopes up.

“I think it’s a fair assumption it’s unlikely but as I said crisis cabinet still hasn’t signed off on what the criteria could be and should be. On health advice it would be unlikely you’re right and even though Newcastle has done well today lets see the next couple of days but I think it’s important we at least communicate with the public what that criteria looks like [to make decisions].”

Image credit: John Barilaro Facebook page