Key reason outbreak isn’t like Melbourne’s


One of Australia's top infectious diseases experts says Sydney is on track to have a "reasonably normal" Christmas.

Professor Peter Collignon, an infectious diseases physician at the Australian National University, believes Sydney's COVID-19 outbreak is looking better than it did 48 hours ago.

NSW has now recorded 86 new cases of the virus, with 83 of those linked to Sydney's northern beaches cluster.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian and chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant are monitoring the situation hourly as they wait to make a call on restrictions on gatherings for Christmas.

However, Professor Collignon said the daily updates on case numbers since Sunday had him feeling better about the holiday period.


"Sydney doesn't have any mystery cases, as far as I'm aware," he told NCA NewsWire. "All people who got infected were contacts and that means you can control it.

"I believe NSW has acted quickly in this second wave and by locking down north beaches that has decreased the chances substantially of further spread.

"We will have to wait over the next few days to see what the numbers do, but at the moment I'm optimistic this is under control it and it's not going to spread widely through Sydney and the rest of the state like it did in Melbourne."

Professor Collignon welcomed the NSW Health restrictions for the state, which came into effect on Sunday.

Everybody in the greater Sydney area, including the Blue Mountains and Central Coast, is limited to 10 guests in their homes at any one time.

All indoor public settings have also reverted back to the 4sq m rule, and dancing in settings other than weddings has been banned, as well as all "singing and chanting".

"In Sydney there'll have to be limitations on numbers at gatherings and New Year's Eve because we really won't know for another 10 or 14 days if it's (truly under control)," he said.

"But that doesn't mean everyone has to become a hermit at Christmas. Currently there is a 10-person limit and I think if we keep improving we can increase that.

"I feel more optimistic than two days ago: it's cautious optimism. I do think people can have some sort of reasonable Christmas but it won't be open slather and have 100 people over to your home."

Professor Collignon also warned COVID-19 restrictions, in whatever capacity, would be around for some time.

"This is a virus and we're going to have this risk for the next year, at least probably a few years," he said.

"So we're going to have to modify what we do; have outdoor barbecues instead of indoor gatherings."

Originally published as Key reason outbreak isn't like Melbourne's