Read the explosive secret emails where health officials BEG Gladys to lockdown Sydney – with virus fragments detected 80km from Bondi’s ‘Patient Zero’
- NSW Health official from Hunter region emailed CHO Dr Kerry Chant on June 24
- They referenced the traces of Covid-19 found in sewage around the city
- The official called for the lockdown to be enforced sooner than it was on June 26
- Dr Chant later said ‘with benefit of hindsight’ lockdown could have come earlier
Secret emails have revealed health officials pleaded with former premier Gladys Berejiklian and her health advisers to lock down Greater Sydney earlier.
The city entered its mammoth four-month lockdown on June 26, but two days earlier a NSW Health official from the Hunter region emailed Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant telling her restrictions were ‘certainly required’.
The official referenced the many traces of Covid-19 that had been found in sewage around the outskirts of Sydney spreading from nearly 80km away im Wollongong to Castle Hill.
At the time, it was widely thought the outbreak was centred primarily in Sydney’s eastern suburbs after a Bondi taxi driver became patient zero.
Former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian locked Sydney down on June 26, and has received criticism over the delay in enforcing restrictions
A health official from NSW’s Hunter region emailed Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant on June 24 – two days before the lockdown – saying a city-wide lockdown was required
‘This is another indication of how widespread the distribution of cases is – I think we are now clearly behind the virus and a Greater Sydney lockdown is certainly required,’ they wrote on June 24.
Restrictions were brought in on that date and a day later lockdowns were imposed on those who lived or worked in LGAs of concern including Waverly, Randwick, the City of Sydney and Woollahra.
But it wasn’t until June 26 that the entire city was put under strict stay-at-home orders.
The outbreak began on June 16 and was linked to an airport limo driver from Bondi but traces of the virus had been detected in sewage around the city before the lockdown was imposed including in Cronulla in the south and Glenhaven in Sydney’s north.
Back in August Dr Chant told a parliamentary hearing that ‘with the benefit of hindsight’, it would have been better for the city to be locked down sooner.
‘I think it’s easy to say there was a greater risk of a seeding event in southwestern Sydney than was appreciated at the time it emerged,’ she said.
Greater Sydney was thrown into lockdown on June 26 as the Covid-19 outbreak spiralled out of control (pictured in Sydney’s CBD on June 28)
She said a super spreader birthday party at West Hoxton on June 19 contributed to significant chains of transmission, but added she thought it was under control.
‘Looking back, there was a chain of transmission that was not detected and that was also playing into the mind that we needed to lock down,’ Dr Chant said.
‘The initial intelligence was that the West Hoxton party was effectively controlled [and] everyone immediately contacted within the timeframe.’
When asked about the email from the official in the Hunter region, a NSW Health spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia the organisation constantly works with officials in local health districts.
‘By 24 June 2021, extensive public health action in response to the emerging Delta outbreak was already well underway,’ the statement read.
Rapid Covid-19 testing sites filled up with Sydneysiders in the early days of lockdown (pictured on July 22)
‘This included the mandating of masks in all non-residential indoor settings in Sydney (22 June); restrictions on non-essential travel outside of metropolitan Sydney from the seven LGAs then at the centre of the outbreak (23 June), and a limit of five visitors to households in Greater Sydney, along with a number of restrictions on movement and gatherings (23 June).
‘On 25 June, stay-at-home restrictions were introduced for people who live or work in four LGAs of concern (Waverley, Woollahra, Randwick, and City of Sydney), along with a limit on outdoor gatherings to 10 people and the closure of certain premises.
‘On 26 June, the stay-at-home restrictions were extended across all of Greater Sydney, including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong, along with a range of public health measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, including the closure of hospitality, personal services and places of worship.
‘There were also restrictions on movement and gatherings introduced for regional NSW on 26 June, and mask wearing was extended to all non-residential indoor premises in NSW.’