Health Minister praises staff of Engadine aged centre for identifying coronavirus case

Brad Hazzard at a media conference on Saturday.
Brad Hazzard at a media conference on Saturday.

A resident of an Engadine aged care centre is among confirmed new cases of coronavirus.

This was revealed as the state government closed Bondi Beach because beach-goers ignored social distancing requests.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard did not name the Engadine aged care facility, but praised staff for their proactive approach, which identified the case.

"NSW Health staff assured me the staff there have worked extremely well with NSW Health, and they absolutely pre-empted some of the new requirements that are now in place, such as the restrictions on visitors," he said.

"They were actually testing their residents proactively. That was how this resident was identified.

"So I want to thank that aged care facility and say to other aged care facilities, 'We would like you to do what this facility has done and others that are doing'."

The number of COVID-19 cases increased to 436 by 8pm on Friday.

Mr Hazzard said the increase of 83 in the 24-hour period compared with 75 the previous day. "Prior to that the daily increase was in the 40s and 30s, so [the rate] is increasing," he said.

Mr Hazzard said, thanks to the efforts of the federal and state governments and health authorities, Australia was not seeing the case numbers recorded in some other countries.

"But the problem is just over the horizon, given the numbers we are now seeing, particularly here in NSW where they are showing a substantial increase," he said.

Mr Hazzard said the majority of cases diagnosed in NSW were either acquired overseas or were in contact with a known case.

"Seventy-four cases have been locally acquired without an identified source of infection. Investigations to establish any links between cases in order to prevent further spread are ongoing."

Mr Hazzard said Bondi Beach was closed because there had been "no real heeding" of the message of social distancing.

"I have spoken to quite a lot of young people, who say '[coronavirus] is not going to hurt me'. Well, it can hurt you and your family and your friends. Take it seriously, take a look at what's happened overseas."

Mr Hazzard said it was a serious health issue across all ages.

Last night, Mr Hazzard signed a public health order to restrict access to Lord Howe Island to stop the transmission of COVID-19 to the community.

He also signed an order that all indoor gatherings provide four square metres for each person present, following Prime Minister Scott Morrison's announcement earlier in the day.

"The four square metre [restriction] will affect every club, pub, restaurant or indoor facility," he said.

"It is made on the basis of medical advice by our most senior health officers across Australia."

Mr Hazzard appealed to proprietors to comply.

"No one wants to see enforcement, what we want to see is compliance," he said.

"Just do it to save your patrons, the people who come to eat in your restaurants, clubs and pubs."