Fears NSW just four weeks behind VIC
As NSW grapples with a growing number of community COVID-19 clusters there are fears the state could be just four weeks behind recording cases on the same scale as Victoria.
NSW recorded 16 new cases on Wednesday with 11 linked to the Thai Rock cluster, three to the Crossroads Hotel cluster, one case in Western Sydney and one in hotel quarantine.
Physician and former Australian Medical Association vice president Dr Stephen Parnis told A Current Affair that NSW's new cases were concerning due to the trend it could indicate.
"My concern is that NSW could be where Melbourne was four, five, six weeks ago," he said.
"There's no room for complacency, and even the other states that have had wonderful records in recent weeks, it wouldn't take much for those things to change.
"This isn't about panic, it's about being ready, it's about doing the drills that we've learnt, all of us, over the last few months."
While Australia had gotten through the first wave easier than other countries and had months to prepare for a second one, Dr Parnis warned it was still possible for our health system to be overwhelmed.
"This virus is capable of spreading, if it gets out of control then we could see things here that we saw in northern Italy, or some part of the United States and that is not something that any of us would want," he said.
"That is why the answer is to do we need to do now, and to acknowledge the stress that every single one of us is under. Because if we can acknowledge that, then we're part of the way to overcoming it and being effective at isolating the virus."
Earlier today epidemiologist and World Health Organisation (WHO) adviser Mary-Louise McLaws said NSW had a particular "challenge" when it came to containing coronavirus.
Speaking to the ABC, Professor McLaws said NSW "was at elimination" prior to the Crossroads Hotel outbreak.
"It had so few numbers outside those in quarantine at the hotel for returned travellers that we were doing very well. I believe that NSW can get back to that level but it will be a challenge, from a different perspective from Melbourne," she said.
"And it's a challenge because each one of those cases acquired COVID in social venues and then went back to their homes, and there's no specific hot spot that you can ring-fence.
"You don't ring-fence a social venue. You close it down but you don't ring-fence the whole of that suburb. So it is challenging and it's challenging to find all of those potential people that were exposed, and you have to find them before day 3 because that can be around the time they become infectious to others."
"The clock is ticking" for NSW health authorities, who would be helped in their work if people began wearing masks like Victoria, Prof McLaws said.
"It's hard work," she said.
"And that's why, I think, it could help to prevent the spread if everybody wore a mask in public until they get a handle on all of those potentially exposed people and put them in isolation."
Originally published as Fears NSW just four weeks behind VIC