The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has called on the NSW Government to review limits on how far people can travel from home and shut down all non-essential retail outlets and services until the COVID-19 Delta variant outbreak is under control.
AMA president Dr Omar Khorshid says the NSW Government cannot wait any longer.
"The prospect of a significant escalation of case numbers remains real, with regional areas at risk," Khorshid says.
"The latest COVID-19 infection numbers in Greater Sydney show while the virus is not escalating out of control, current restrictions are not strong enough to bring overall infection numbers down any time soon.
"Rising unlinked cases and people infectious in the community show we are not ahead of this outbreak. This means there is no end to the lockdown in sight and more needs to be done."
He says telling the community not to browse the shops is not enough.
"Allowing non-essential retail stores to remain open not only sends the wrong message to the public, but it also increases the risk of transmission. This is despite the reality that people can access many of the products online," the AMA president says.
"A range of non-essential workplaces also remain open, which we know from the Victorian experience last year needed to be closed or operated under strict limits in order for its outbreak to be brought under control.
"There is confusion about what is considered essential and non-essential, and the AMA believes it is time for NSW to follow the Victorian approach which gives a clear definition for the public and the business community."
Khorshid explains while the AMA appreciate just how hard things are for people living in Greater Sydney, more delay will simply make things much worse and impose a much bigger toll on the community.
"With the announcement of additional support for workers and businesses, there is no excuse for further hesitation or delay," he says.
NSW AMA president Dr Danielle McMullen says the AMA welcomed the NSW Government decision on 9 July to further tighten COVID-19 restrictions for people living in Greater Sydney, however, the data shows restrictions are not having the necessary impact.
"An alarming number of new cases each day appear to have been in the community throughout their infectious period - potentially spreading the virus to friends, family, colleagues and other people in the community," she says.
"With infection numbers remaining stubbornly high, Sydney is facing the increasing prospect of a long and protracted lockdown and the growing risk of the virus spreading to regional areas.
"At the moment when people need to leave home to exercise or go shopping, they are allowed to travel 10km, we believe 5km would be a more effective restriction."
Updated at 3:17pm AEST on 16 July 2021.
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