Officials rush to trace source of Covid cluster as Sydney cases rise

SYDNEY: Health officials were rushing yesterday to trace the source of a growing cluster of Covid-19 cases in Sydney, with thousands of residents urged to stay home.

Initial reports of five cases yesterday morning had grown to 17 hours later, as officials worked to uncover the source of the infection.

New South Wales chief health officer Kerry Chant said at an earlier press conference that the cases were "a wake-up call" to residents, who had been enjoying a relative return to normal in recent months.

"I think it's fair to say that mask wearing has declined, with some level of complacency in the population," Dr Chant said.

"And I think this is a wake-up call to urge the community to continue to follow that health advice."

Mask wearing - although encouraged - remains optional in Sydney as daily community cases in the country have remained low or at zero for months, allowing a continued rollback of restrictions ahead of Christmas.

The news triggered swift action from several state officials around Australia, with some immediately revising travel rules for those arriving from Sydney.

"I know these changes will cause frustration and uncertainty for some people," Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan said, as he announced quarantine measures and mandatory testing for travellers arriving from Sydney.

Australia has recorded more than 28,000 cases and 908 deaths in a population of 25 million. - AFP