Parts of NSW’s Central West are waking to a snap COVID-19 lockdown after cases leaked out of Greater Sydney’s growing Delta variant outbreak.
The decision to put the regional centre of Orange and the nearby shires of Blayney and Cabonne into the seven-day lockdown has highlighted the growing concern from officials.
The move followed a crisis meeting of government and health officials after a worker at a pet food factory at Blayney, near Orange, tested positive.
At yesterday’s media conference, NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant gave a sense of how seriously the news was being taken.
“We are currently urgently assessing the situation,” she said.
Just hours later, the NSW government announced the first lockdown in regional NSW for this outbreak.
The Blayney factory worker caught the virus from a truck driver who delivered goods from Sydney on Friday and Saturday last week.
The Nestle Purina factory in Blayney is now closed for cleaning and managers are nervously awaiting the results of testing from a number of other workers.
It has emerged that the factory worker made a number of stop-offs in Orange, visiting a petrol station, a Woolworths supermarket, a Pizza Hut restaurant, an Officeworks store and a shopping centre.
All five have been listed as venues of concern.
Anyone who was there at the relevant times is considered a close contact and asked to get tested and isolate for 14 days regardless of the result.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the lesson to be learned from how quickly the Delta strain was spreading in Sydney was to lockdown immediately, hard and fast.
“This is tough but it’s appropriate, and if we go hard, fast, and local as we’ve done this time, we’ll be out of this lockdown quite quickly,” Mr Barilaro said.
“It’s better we’re safe than sorry but I’m confident that the seven-day turnaround might be sufficient.”
In Orange, the local member Phil Donato said the community had already seen “excellent numbers” at testing clinics.
He urged people “not to panic, stay calm, stay vigilant”.
“This is not an exact science, it was something that was delivered very late last night but if we can all do the right thing over the next seven days, hopefully we can keep this contained.”
Mr Donato said the focus of the lockdown was to ensure the virus didn’t spread further west or north to vulnerable communities whose medical facilities are less equipped.
“We need to keep this contained in our LGA because if it were to escape Orange and got further west to more marginalised, isolated, vulnerable communities, that’s where the real concerns are.”
Testing centres in the Central West are being expanded to cope with an expected surge in demand and hospitals have been placed on red alert, limiting access to visitors.
“We are all concerned because we just do not want this to escalate in our region at all,” the Mayor of Blayney Shire Council, Scott Ferguson, told the ABC.
There are also concerns about the Illawarra region south of Sydney after a third person tested positive.
The latest case in Wollongong is linked to two others announced on Sunday.