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‘Unprecedented’ police operation kicks off in NSW as state battles relentless COVID-19 spread

Thousands of NSW police will enforce tough new COVID-19 regulations for the locked-down state after it recorded 415 new cases and four deaths on Sunday.

NSW Deputy Police Commissioner Mick Willing said from Monday, 1,400 Highway Patrol officers would be on patrol.

“The unprecedented operation will see thousands of police officers from police districts and police area commands across the state working alongside our colleagues from the Australian Defence Force, enforcing the strength public health orders,” he said.

The death toll for NSW stands at 48 for this outbreak, and 104 for the entire pandemic in the state. There are 62 people in intensive care in hospital, 24 of them requiring ventilation.

The three women and one man who are the latest casualties were all from Sydney’s southwest. Only one of them was fully vaccinated but had underlying health conditions.

People in Greater Sydney will need a permit to travel to regional NSW and single people will need to register their “singles buddies”.

In newly-locked down regional areas, people must only leave their residence for an essential reason.

Everyone must carry masks at all times, no visitors are allowed in the home unless for carers’ responsibilities or for compassionate reasons, and those in a relationship.

A test and isolate payment of $320 will also start this week for workers 17 and over who have symptoms of COVID-19 and live in government areas of concern.

NSW Labor leader Chris Minns wants that payment made available statewide.

“The test and isolate payment must be in every part of NSW,” Mr Minns said.

With all of NSW now under lockdown rules, all schoolchildren will be learning from home from Monday.

While the NSW Department of Education has confirmed that someone at Blacktown North Public School has tested positive, which will mean the school will be non-operational on Monday.

MLC School in Burwood will be partly closed on Monday after two cases were linked to its senior campus in the city’s inner west.

The private girls’ school was the fourth school to announce cases as the Delta variant continued to spread throughout Sydney and regional NSW.

More than half of the new 415 locally-acquired cases to 8pm on Saturday were from Sydney’s west and southwest, with the suburbs of Blacktown, Mount Druitt, Marayong, Merrylands, Auburn and Guildford causing the most concern.

In the state’s west 21 new cases were identified. Health officials are worried, especially in relation to vulnerable Indigenous communities.

“We know that the vast majority of our cases in Dubbo and across the western NSW are Aboriginal, and we know also the vast majority of our cases are also children,” Western NSW Local Health District CEO, Scott McLachlan said on Sunday.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said while more work is to be done, the case tally is a welcome drop from Saturday’s figures when the state recorded 466 new cases.

“We can’t stress enough that we don’t want to go down the path of all these other places overseas where they have literally thousands and thousands and thousands of cases a day,” she said.

“If too many people do the wrong thing, NSW and Australia will follow what has happened (there).”

Ms Berejiklian meanwhile said five million vaccines had been given out in NSW with half the state’s eligible population having now received their first dose.

She also welcomed the 500,000 Pfizer vaccines to be supplied to NSW by the Commonwealth.

More than 20 TrainLink Services have been cancelled for the coming week, leaving essential workers stranded after a fortnight of chaos at the Central Station Staff Testing Hub.

About 260 NSW TrainLink staff are isolating after being advised that a COVID-19 tester at Central Station had tested positive.