Greater Sydney's lockdown will be extended by at least another two weeks after NSW recorded 97 new community Covid-19 cases today.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian had foreshadowed the extension was coming, saying this week it would be virtually "impossible" for the stay-at-home orders to be lifted at midnight this Friday as planned.
Today's new cases bring the total number of infections in the Sydney outbreak to 864.
Of the new cases, 60 were isolation throughout their infectious period, seven cases were in isolation for part of their infectious period and 24 were infectious in the community. The isolation status of six cases remains under investigation.
There are now 71 Covid-19 patients in hospital, with 20 in intensive care and four requiring ventilation.
Those in ICU include one person in their 20s, two in their 30s, two in their 40s, five in their 50s, five in their 60s, three in their 70s and two in their 80s.
Berejiklian said the number of people infectious in the community needed to drop before the lockdown could be lifted.
"That is the number, the 24 number is what we need to get down to is close to zero as possible," she said.
"We need to extend the lockdown at least a further two weeks, from Friday the 16th to Friday the 30th with the current settings.
"That includes home learning, however we will obviously assess the situation at the end of those two weeks."
Berejiklian said authorities would know by the end of the two-week extension whether the lockdown would need to be extended again.
"We will know at the end of two weeks to what extent we need to extend the lockdown, whether there is any chance of face-to-face schooling.
"There are a number of issues we won't know until we have further data."
In recent days, multiple infectious disease experts have called for tough Stage 4 restrictions to be brought in across Greater Sydney.
Many suggested the rules needed to be closer to those introduced in Melbourne last year, with a 5km travel radius and curfew.
'It seems like nobody is safe'
NSW posted 89 new infections yesterday and a second death – with at least 21 of those cases infectious in the community.
St Vincent's Hospital emergency department medical director Dr Paul Preisz told the Sydney Morning Herald this morning that there was a more diverse group of hospital patients this time around, with a "disproportionate number of younger patients in ICU".
"It just seems like nobody is safe."
Long road to recovery
Modelling on NSW's outbreak shows the state still has a very long way to go before restrictions can ease, with cases still predicted to be above 40 a day until September.
Infectious disease expert Professor Mike Toole said modelling from the Burnet Institute shows if Greater Sydney continues with the current restrictions it will take more than two months to drive that daily case number to below 40.
"At the current level of restrictions, which is stage 3.5 under our modelling, that will flatten the curve and lead to gradually decreasing cases but it will not be enough to lift those restrictions," Toole told ABC's Radio National this morning.
"It would appear there would be 40 cases a day at the beginning of September. If you applied stage four in the modelling you would get to less than five cases a day by September."
Berejiklian has repeatedly said the aim is to have zero people in the community while infectious before the lockdown can be lifted.
Toole said a new financial support package for NSW employers and workers announced last night meant there was "no excuse" not to bring in tougher restrictions.
"The restrictions are just not good enough, it has to be more and that's based on experience last year. This modelling is not made up overnight."