But Sydney’s northern beaches cluster continues to grow, with nine new cases recorded on Boxing Day after 40,000 people were tested on Christmas Day. One case is a young child who attended the Paddington Alimentari cafe.
Eight out of the nine cases are all directly linked to the Avalon cluster, and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said health authorities have not ruled out the possibility the ninth case – a person in Bondi – could be a false positive.
“Out of those eight that were directly linked to the Avalon cluster, six are household contacts, six out of those eight actually lived in the same household,” Ms Berejiklian said.
NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Change said the ninth case located in Bondi so far has no known links to the Avalon cluster.
“The case remains under investigation. We are relying on serological testing and repeat testing on that case turning negative, but we are looking at whether they could be a false positive or an old case. We are taking a very precautionary approach,” she said.
Dr Chant said the “patient zero” for the northern beaches outbreak remains unknown, and two other cases remain under investigation.
Six new cases of COVID-19 were recorded among overseas arrival in hotel quarantine in NSW.
Nearly 2000 people spent Christmas Day in hotel quarantine in Melbourne, including 48 people who arrived in Victoria from Greater Sydney or the NSW central coast since border controls were re-instated in the wake of the northern beaches outbreak.
About 140 Australians were expected to land at Melbourne Airport on Christmas Day.
For those heading to the coast for the holidays, coronavirus testing sites have been set up at Torquay, Lorne, and on the Mornington Peninsula.
“There has been an excellent response to our call for testing over the past week with higher than expected numbers of people getting tested, but we must remain vigilant over the festive season and anyone with symptoms is urged get tested immediately,” the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement.
“COVID-19 testing remains one of the best ways we can keep people safe and stay open and enjoy a COVID-safe summer.”
There will be reduced capacity of some testing sites until January 2, however more than 60 sites will remain open throughout the summer break.
No one who has been in the northern beaches area, Greater Sydney or the NSW central coast since December 11 is able to freely travel to Victoria, with those who arrive at the road border turned around and air arrivals put into hotel quarantine.
Victorians are still being advised not to travel to Sydney as they may be forced to spend 14 days in hotel quarantine upon their return home.
with Rachael Dexter
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Marissa Calligeros is a journalist at The Age
Jenny Noyes is a journalist at the Sydney Morning Herald.