Tuesday 31 March 2020

COVID-19 Pandemic 2020: individuals displaying an unacceptable level of ignorance, entitlement or aggression

NSW Police, media release, 26 March 2020:

Appeal for public help after man coughs on Hunter supermarket employee

Police are appealing for public assistance after a man deliberately coughed on a supermarket employee at a Hunter region store earlier this week.

About 7.30pm on Tuesday (24 March 2020), a 35-year-old female employee was working inside a supermarket on Glenelg Street, Raymond Terrace, assisting customers to adhere to social distancing rules.

Police have been told a man and woman approached the register before a verbal altercation occurred between the man and the female employee and he deliberately coughed on her.

Officers from Port Stephens-Hunter Police District were notified and commenced inquiries into the circumstances surrounding the incident.

As inquiries continue, police have released images of a man they wish to speak to who may be able to assist with their investigation.

The man is described as being of Caucasian appearance, between 170-180cm tall, with a shaved head, and goatee-style facial hair. At the time, he was wearing cream shorts and black thongs.

Anyone who knows the man or has information which may assist investigators is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

A number of COVID-19 ministerial directions been announced to date, covering incoming travellers, diagnosed persons, mass gatherings and social distancing rules, and the closure of social gathering places.

The Public Health Act 2010 (NSW) provides NSW Police with the power to enforce these orders. It is an offence for a person to fail to comply with an order, and severe penalties apply.

NSW Police can now issue Penalty Infringement Notices (PINs) to anyone found to be in contravention of a ministerial direction. PINs carry on-the-spot fines of $1000 for individuals and $5000 for businesses.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services, David Elliott, urges anyone with information to come forward.

“This kind of dangerous behaviour needs to stop immediately. It’s potentially putting the lives of workers and their families at risk.

“This isn’t a time to practice poor hygiene habits.

“For a disgusting act like this, you could find yourself charged with common assault and jailed for up to two years,” Mr Elliott said.

Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report crime via NSW Police social media pages.

Daily Mail, 27 March 2020:

A woman has been slapped with a $1,000 fine after ignoring instructions to self-isolate during the coronavirus lockdown. 
The 65-year-old woman returned to Sydney from Bali on Saturday and was ordered to self-quarantine for 14 days amid the deadly COVID-19 outbreak.
Police received reports that the woman had broken her quarantine on Monday and visited her home in Redhead, south of Newcastle, and issued her with a warning. 
Later on Thursday, officers received further information that the woman had once again left her home and was breaching the public health order.
Officers returned to her house later that day at 1.45pm and issued her a $1,000 penalty infringement notice. 
Police from Thursday had the power to hand out fines of $1,000 to individuals and $5,000 to businesses that breach public health orders or ministerial directions.....

The Daily Examiner, 28 March 2020, p.16:

COVID-19 is making it a trying time for accommodation providers in Byron Bay, including for providers of short term accommodation (STA) such as Airbnb. 

Some savvy hosts are scrambling to keep bookings up and are still attempting to lure guests to Byron, advertising it as a “haven” for self-isolation. 

But residents are pleading for travellers to stay at home as the STA hosts advertise the beachside town as a great place  to isolate in the wake of strict social enforcements due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Self-isolate in sunny Byron Bay,” one Airbnb advertisement reads. “Come and self-isolate at the beach,” says another.....

“Someone just asked the very good question as to why shouldn’t visitors ‘social distance’ or ‘self isolate’ in the Byron Shire rather than in at home in Brisbane or the Gold Coast. 

“Here’s why: a) because you could be bringing the disease to this area and potentially infecting people living here and other visitors who have done the same thing, and b) if you are socially distancing or socially isolating down here and then need medical treatment, regional areas don’t have as many medical facilities as cities/ towns. “This means that locals could miss out on an ICU bed — and that could be my relative or neighbour pays with their life.”

Monday 30 March 2020

COVID-19 confirmed cases count for Australia, states and territories from 29 March 2020


Cumulative totals of confirmed COVID-19 infections across Australia, taken from official federal, state and territory sources and updated daily. 

Dates of the month are those of official departmental media releases and do not always reflect the day on which any confirmed infection increase occurred. The lag when it does occur is usually less than 24 hours.

  • 3,984 confirmed COVID-19 cases 29 March 2020 
  • 4,250 confirmed COVID-19 cases 30 March 2020 (increase of 266 cases)
  • 4,558 confirmed COVID-19 cases 31 March 2020 (increase of 308 cases)
  • 4,864 confirmed COVID-19 cases 1 April 2020 (increase of 306 cases)
  • 5,137 confirmed COVID-19 cases 2 April 2020 (increase of 273 cases)
  • 5,361 confirmed COVID-19 cases 3 April 2020 (increase of 224 cases)
  • 5,550 confirmed COVID-19 cases 4 April 2020 (increase of 189 cases)
  • 5,693 confirmed COVID-19 cases 4 April 2020 (increase of 143 cases)
  • 5,800 confirmed COVID-19 cases 6 April 2020 (increase 107 cases)*
  • 5,844 confirmed COVID-19 cases 7 April 2020, with 44 deaths 
*  Estimates only
  • 656 confirmed COVID-19 cases 29 March 2020 (increase of 31 cases)
  • 689 confirmed COVID-19 cases 30 March 2020 (increase of 33 cases)
  • 743 confirmed COVID-19 cases 31 March 2020 (increase of 55 cases)
  • 781 confirmed COVID-19 cases 1 April 2020 (increase of 38 cases)
  • 835 confirmed COVID-19 cases 2 April 2020 (increase of 54 cases)
  • 873 confirmed COVID-19 cases 3 April 2020 (increase of 39 cases)
  • 900 confirmed COVID-19 cases 4 April 2020 (increase of 27 cases)
  • 907 confirmed COVID-19 cases 5 April 2020 (increase of 9 cases)
  • 921  confirmed COVID-19 cases 6 April 2020 (increase of 14 cases)
  • 1,791 confirmed COVID-19 cases 29 March 2020 (increase of 174 cases)
  • 1,918 confirmed COVID-19 cases 30 March 2020 (increase of 127 cases)
  • 2,032 confirmed COVID-19 cases 31 March 2020 (increase of 96 cases)
  • 2,182 confirmed COVID-19 cases 1 April 2020 (increase of 105 cases)
  • 2,298 confirmed COVID-19 cases 2 April 2020 (increase of 116 cases)
  • 2,389 confirmed COVID-19 cases 3 April 2020 (increase of 91 cases)
  • 2,493 confirmed COVID-19 cases 4 April 2020 (increase of 104 cases)
  • 2,580 confirmed COVID-19 cases 5 April 2020 (increase of 87 cases)
  • 2,637 confirmed COVID-19 cases 6 April 2020 (increase of 57 cases)
  • 77 confirmed COVID-19 cases 29 March 2020 (increase of 6 cases)
  • 78 confirmed COVID-19 cases 30 March 2020 (increase of 1 case)
  • 80 confirmed COVID-19 cases 31 March 2020 (increase of 2 cases)
  • 84  confirmed COVID-19 cases 1 April 2020 (increase of 4 cases)*
  • 87 confirmed COVID-19 cases 2 April 2020 (increase of 3 cases)*
  • 91 confirmed COVID-19 cases 3 April 2020 (increase of 4 cases)
  • 93 confirmed COVID-19 cases 4 April 2020 (increase of 2 cases) 
  • 96 confirmed COVID-19 cases 5 April 2020 (increase of 3 cases) 
  • 96 confirmed COVID-19 cases 6 April 2020 (no increase overnight) 
* numbers being reassessed due to false positive tests

  • 769 confirmed COVID-19 cases 29 March 2020 (increase of 31 cases)
  • 821 confirmed COVID-19 cases 30 March 2020 (increase of 52 cases)
  • 917 confirmed COVID-19 cases 31 March 2020 (increase of 96 cases)
  • 968 confirmed COVID-19 cases 1 April 2020 (increase of 51 cases)
  • 1,036 confirmed COVID-19 cases 2 April 2020 (increase of 68 cases)
  • 1,084 confirmed COVID-19 cases 3 April 2020 (increase of 49 cases)
  • 1,115 confirmed COVID-19 cases 4 April 2020 (increase of 30 cases)
  • 1,135 confirmed COVID-19 cases 5 April 2020 (increase of 20 cases)
  • 1,158  confirmed COVID-19 cases 6 April 2020 (increase 23 of cases)*
*  Estimates only

  • 66 confirmed COVID-19 cases 29 March 2020 (increase of 4 cases)
  • 69 confirmed COVID-19 cases 30 March 2020 (increase of 3 cases)
  • 69 confirmed COVID-19 cases 31 March 2020 (no increase overnight)
  • 71 confirmed COVID-19 cases 1 April 2020 (increase of 2 cases)
  • 74 confirmed COVID-19 cases 2 April 2020 (increase of 2 cases)
  • 80 confirmed COVID-19 cases 3 April 2020 (increase of 6 cases)
  • 80 confirmed COVID-19 cases 4 April 2020 (no increase overnight)
  • 86 confirmed COVID-19 cases 5 April 2020 (increase of 4 cases)
  • 89 confirmed COVID-19 cases 5 6 April 2020 (increase of 3 cases)
  • 299 confirmed COVID-19 cases 29 March 2020 (increase of 12 cases)
  • 305 confirmed COVID-19 cases 30 March 2020 (increase of 6 cases)
  • 337 confirmed COVID-19 cases 31 March 2020 (increase of 32 cases)
  • 367 confirmed COVID-19 cases 1 April 2020 (increase of 30 cases)
  • 385 confirmed COVID-19 cases 2 April 2020 (increase of 18 cases)
  • 396 confirmed COVID-19 cases 3 April 2020 (increase of 11 cases)
  • 407 confirmed COVID-19 cases 4 April 2020 (increase of 11 cases)
  • 409 confirmed COVID-19 cases 5 April 2020 (increase of 2 cases)
  • 411 confirmed COVID-19 cases 6 April 2020 (increase of 2 cases)
  • 311 confirmed COVID-19 cases 29 March 2020 (increase of 33 cases)
  • 355 confirmed COVID-19 cases 30 March 2020 (increase of 44 cases)
  • 364 confirmed COVID-19 cases 31 March 2020 (increase of 9 cases)
  • 392 confirmed COVID-19 cases 1 April 2020 (increase of 28 cases)
  • 400 confirmed COVID-19 cases 2 April 2020 (increase of 8 cases)
  • 422 confirmed COVID-19 cases 3 April 2020 (increase of 22 cases)
  • 436 confirmed COVID-19 cases 4 April 2020 (increase of 14 cases
  • 453 confirmed COVID-19 cases 5 April 2020 (increase of 17 cases)
  • 460 confirmed COVID-19 cases 6 April 2020 (increase of 7 cases)
  • 15 confirmed COVID-19 cases 29 March 2020 (no increase overnight)
  • 15 confirmed COVID-19 cases 30 March 2020 (no increase overnight)
  • 17 confirmed COVID-19 cases 31 March 2020 (increase of 2 cases)
  • 19 confirmed COVID-19 cases 1 April 2020 (increase of 2 cases)
  • 22 confirmed COVID-19 cases 2 April 2020 (increase of 3 cases)
  • 26 confirmed COVID-19 cases 3 April 2020 (increase of 4 cases)
  • 26 confirmed COVID-19 cases 4 April 2020 (no increase overnight)
  • 27 confirmed COVID-19 cases 4 April 2020 (increase of 1 case)
  • 28  confirmed COVID-19 cases 6 April 2020 (increase of 2 cases)
NSW Northern Rivers Region
  • confirmed COVID-19 cases 16 March 2020
  • confirmed COVID-19 cases 18 March 2020
  • confirmed COVID-19 cases 22 March 2020
  • 7 confirmed COVID-19 cases 23 March 2020
  • 17 confirmed COVID-19 cases 24 March 2020
  • 22 confirmed COVID-19 cases 26 March 2020
  • 25 confirmed COVID-19 cases 27 March 2020
  • 27 confirmed COVID-19 cases 30 March 2020
  • 38 confirmed COVID-19 cases 31 March 2020
  • 42 confirmed COVID-19 cases 1 April 2020 - Kyogle 0 cases, Richmond Valley 0 cases, Ballina 4 cases, Lismore 5 cases, Clarence Valley 8 cases, Tweed 12 cases, Byron Bay 13 cases.
  • 44 confirmed COVID-19 cases 2 April 2020 
  • 45 confirmed COVID-19 cases 3 April 2020
  • 46 confirmed COVID-19 caes 5 April 2020 - Kyogle 0 cases, Richmond Valley 4 cases, Ballina 4 cases, Lismore 5  cases, Clarence Valley 8 cases, Tweed 13 cases, Byron Bay 13 cases.
  • 47 confirmed COVID-19 cases 6 April 2020

Parliamentary oversight of the the Australian Government ceased on 23 March 2020

At 19:07pm on the 23 March 2020 the House of Representatives divided for a vote changing the House sittings schedule for 2020.

The vote was 48 Ayes to 37 Noes. [Hansard, 23 March 2020, p.85]

This change left Australia with no sitting federal parliament from day's end on 23 March until 11 August 2020.

The vote to end parliamentary oversight of government went thus:

The Greens and Labor lost this vote.

Scott Morrison and his hard right allies, including the Institute of Public Affairs, cannot fail to be pleased with this extension of unfettered political power.

The reason the opposition believes that we shouldn't make that decision today is that, as everyone is acknowledging, we don't know where we will be in May or June, and the presumption should be that the parliament will sit. The presumption should be that we will meet if it is possible for us to sit, because, during this period, during a time of crisis, is when the Australian public needs us to sit. I will be more than surprised if we can go from now until August and find that the legislation we put through the parliament today is all the nation needs for Australia to handle this pandemic, all the nation needs to deal with the crisis of unemployment and recession that we'll be facing. That means we will need to sit, so we shouldn't pretend that we won't. It also means during this period the government will be compelled in the interests of the nation to make some decisions of great magnitude. That will happen. We know that will happen; that's part of the story behind the supply bills that have just passed. To have decisions of that magnitude being made without the parliament convening and without there being a question time and an opportunity for people representing the different corners of Australia to hold the government to account is an unwise course for us to take.” [Tony Burke, MP for Watson & Manager of Opposition Business, in House of Representatives Hansard, 23 March 2020]

Lock the Gate & Knitting Nannas Against Gas sound a warning over Berejiklian Government's sly move to take advantage of the current pandemic in order to further coal and gas industry interests

Knitting Nannas Against Gas, Fossil Fools Bulletin, 25 March 2020:

NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes’ push for the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) to proceed with public hearings during the covid-19 pandemic is has alarmed groups opposed to the Narrabri gasfield and the Vickery coal mine.

Stokes has instructed the IPC to continue with public hearings during the coronavirus crisis.

Lock the Gate NSW spokesperso Georgina Woods said people could not be expected to fully engage in the assessment process of major resource projects during a health crisis.

She called on the Berejiklian Government to suspend the IPC assessments of Narrabri and Vickery until the pandemic was over.

It is deeply disturbing Planning Minister Rob Stokes expects the
Independent Planning Commission to press ahead with a public hearing for controversial projects like the Narrabri gasfield and Vickery coal mine in the context of a global pandemic,” she said.

People will miss having say on projects

The Covid-19 outbreak is upending the lives of people globally and New South Wales is no exception.

People are frightened, and understandably so – the last thing many want to do is gather publicly, or miss out on their opportunity to have their say on these highly damaging projects.

The Planning Minister cannot possibly expect the Commission can
adequately or fairly undertake public consultation in this context.

People in rural New South Wales have limited internet capacity and in towns and cities we are bracing for further disruption while we put all our efforts into limiting the spread of this virus.

The Planning Minister needs to put public health and basic fairness first and allow the IPC to suspend its consideration of the Narrabri gasfield and Vickery coal mine until the pandemic has passed and people are able to fully participate, as is our right.”

Sunday 29 March 2020

Federal Parliament suspends inquiry into migration in regional Australia until later in 2020

The Joint Standing Committee on Migration has decided to suspend its inquiry into migration in regional Australia, in light of the economic effects of the public health situation changing the nature of the needs of communities in regional Australia.
“Given the fast evolving situation in Australia and around the world, and the challenges posed by COVID-19, the Committee felt it best to suspend its inquiry,” Mr Julian Leeser MP, Committee Chair said. “The Committee was unanimous in this decision, which it does not take lightly.”
“The Committee will reconsider the matter later in 2020 but would like to sincerely thank everyone who has contributed to the inquiry so far. Your input and dedication to supporting and developing Australia’s regions is greatly appreciated.”
Any questions about the suspension of the inquiry should be directed to migration@aph.gov.au.

COVID-19 Pandemic 2020: across the Clarence Valley major retailers have shut up shop

Across the Clarence Valley major retailers have shut up shop.

The Daily Examiner, 26 March 2020:

Mosaic Brands, which owns Rivers, Millers, Noni B, Autograph, Crossroads and Rockmans, among others, announced it would be closing its stores as of yesterday evening and stood down 6800 staff.

When The Daily Examiner contacted one local retailer affected by the announcement, staff had not yet been told they would be stood down.

The move will have significant ramifications for the Clarence, with at least eight stores being affected, seven of which are situated in Grafton Shoppingworld.

Carol Durrant, assistant manager at Rockmans on Prince St, said while the impact could be “disastrous” for the local economy in the long term, it was not unexpected.

She said there had been a significant decline in the number of shoppers during the past week.

“Well, we knew it had to come as both my daughters are in retail in Queensland and they had been shut for the last week – it had to come,” she said.

Ms Durrant said the downturn in shoppers was a sign the community understood the new social distancing measures.

“I think people are realising it is non-essential and we haven’t seen a soul all day,” Ms Durrant said.

“They are really getting the message.” For anyone who ventured into Grafton Shoppingworld it was impossible not to notice the impact the pandemic was having at a local level.

The chairs have been removed from the food court with the recently announced ban on indoor eateries and there were few people out shopping.

Mosaic Brands said in their announcement the measures were temporary. “All team members affected by the store closures will be stood down with access to leave entitlements while the group reviews government support schemes that may be available to them,” they stated.

“The group has recently seen a significant drop in store traffic and revenue, a direct result of the community’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak and the government’s social distancing recommendations.” A Grafton Shoppingworld spokesperson said the announcement would affect seven stores in the centre but noted the centre would remain fully open.

“The centre is constantly liaising with all relevant authorities and will follow all directives in regard to its operation to ensure a safe environment for all,” the spokesperson said.....

Saturday 28 March 2020

COVID-19 Pandemic 2020: NSW local government elections postponed for twelve months from September 2020

Shelley Hancock – Minister for Local Government, media release,  25 March 2020:

Local Government Elections

The NSW Government has made the regrettable decision to postpone the September local government elections for 12 months in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Local government elections are a vital part of the democratic process, ensuring local councils are accountable to their local communities.
Therefore, the decision to postpone them has not been taken lightly but is necessary to ensure the health and safety of voters, NSW Electoral Commission staff and election candidates.
The decision follows Parliament passing amendments to the Local Government Act to provide me with the power to postpone the elections.
The NSW Electoral Commissioner has also requested that the Government postpone the council elections.
This decision provides certainty for local councils, communities and election candidates.
The postponement of the next round of council elections will not change the future schedule of council elections, and the subsequent elections will still proceed in September 2024
Mayoral elections will still be held in 2020.

Tweet of the Week

Cartoons of the Week

Matt Golding
Mark David

Peter Broelman

Fiona Katauskas

Friday 27 March 2020

COVID-19 advice to the Morrison Government - details of which it never expected the general public would become aware

"The reduction in doubling time is an indicator that the window for proactive intervention is very small." 

At the current rate of infection Australia could theoretically expect over 6,000 COVID-19 cases by next week and over 50,000 by Easter.

COVID-19 cases quickly climbing in the NSW Northern Rivers region

COVID-19 infection rose from 7 to 17 cases within a 24 hour period in the NSW Northern Rivers region. Total number of cases now stands at 22 individuals.

Northern NSW Local Health District (NNLHD), media release, 24 March 2020:

10 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed within the Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) since our last update, bringing the District’s total to 17 cases.
The Public Health Unit is in the process of contacting close contacts, and investigations are underway to determine the sources of these cases.
The confirmed cases to date are spread across the length of the Local Health District, from Clarence right up to the Tweed Valley.
We’d like to thank those who have been cooperating with our Public Health Officers to date, working with our staff and self-isolating correctly at home.
We can’t emphasise enough how important it is for all our community to heed the advice of authorities in efforts to slow the transmission of the virus.
It’s critical to adhere to self-isolation guidelines if you’ve been instructed by health authorities or mandated to quarantine as a result of overseas travel.
For general members of the public, the most important things you can do at the moment are:
  • practising good hygiene – hand washing or sanitising, and coughing/sneezing into a tissue which you then discard
  • staying at home if you’re sick
  • minimising close contact with others by following the social distancing measures.
It’s also important to remember that locations where cases live, work or have visited don’t pose an ongoing risk to members of the public. If you are considered a close contact of a confirmed case, a Health officer will contact you directly.
COVID-19/flu clinics
COVID-19/flu clinics are established at The Tweed Hospital, Lismore Base Hospital and Grafton Base Hospital, open from 10am to 6pm daily.
These clinics are for those most at risk with respiratory symptoms or fever, those returning from overseas or in contact with a COVID-19 case, or people like our health workers. It is vital that these respiratory clinics are not overwhelmed with people who are not in the high risk groups, which could result in delays identifying those most vulnerable. People without symptoms do not need to be tested.
The symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, headache, runny nose, or shortness of breath. Anyone with symptoms should isolate themselves from others.
Identification and isolation of contacts is a critical measure that limits the spread of COVID-19. Compliance with self-isolation by all contacts and returned travellers is essential.
When social distancing actions are combined with good personal hygiene measures the spread of an epidemic through the community can be slowed.
This helps protect the most vulnerable members of the community. It also reduces the impact of the epidemic on essential, life-saving health services by reducing the size of the peak of the epidemic so health services can continue to provide high quality care to all patients.
Everybody must play their part.
For advice and information about COVID-19 visit www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/diseases/Pages/coronavirus.aspx
Northern NSW Local Health District (NNLHD), media release, excerpt, 26 March 2020:

As at 8pm Wednesday 25 March there were five new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in residents of the Northern NSW Local Health District. This brings the District’s total to 22.
The new cases are:
  • Case 18 – currently not residing in Northern NSW LHD, in home isolation
  • Case 19 – in home isolation after returning from overseas
  • Case 20 – in home isolation after returning from overseas
  • Case 21 – in home isolation, source currently being investigated
  • Case 22 – in home isolation, source currently being investigated
The Public Health Unit is following up close contacts of cases who are located within NNSWLHD, who are being asked to self-isolate for 14 days from last contact with the confirmed case.
They will be contacted daily to check that they are well and anyone who develops COVID-19 symptoms will be tested for the virus.
If you are considered a close contact of a confirmed case, a Health officer will contact you directly.
 The cases for NNSWLHD include:
  • 15 overseas acquired cases
  • 2 contacts of a confirmed case/ or in a known cluster
  • 2 contact not identified
  • 3 under investigation – source unknown
Of these previous 17 cases, 14 are currently in self-isolation at home and two are in hospital. One person is considered to have recovered.

Thursday 26 March 2020

Pubs are closing all over the Clarence Valley as pandemic containment measures come into effect

Grafton Hotel

The Daily Examiner, 24 March 2020:

Fitzroy Street was filled with the sweet sounds of bagpipes at noon yesterday as Grafton Hotel closed its doors indefinitely. 

Steve Smith received a call from his wife late last night following Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement that several businesses, including licensed pubs and clubs, would close in a bid to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. 

Grafton Hotel regular and piper Peter Lougher marked the occasion with a rendition of Auld Lang Syne on Fitzroy St at noon, surrounded by staff and regular patrons. 

Mr Smith said the ­shutdown, which could be in place for as long as six months but will be reviewed monthly, was a “kick in the guts” for many people who would no doubt feel the long term impacts of the ­closure...

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian stresses that in ramping up pandemic compliance measures harsh penalties will apply to persons who disobey instructions to self-isolate

ABCNews, 24 March 2020:

Good morning, everybody. NSW is at a critical stage in relation to the virus. We need to make sure the spread stops. We need to make sure everybody who's in self-isolation stays in self-isolation.

We are ramping up our compliance. We're making sure that people are followed up. If they're supposed to be in self-isolation and they're not, there are harsh penalties and we'll enforce that.

We have to take this seriously.

And if NSW citizens follow the health advice, which is if you're self-isolating, stay in self-isolation, that includes contacts, direct contacts of people who have been diagnosed with the virus. If you are under those instructions, please, please follow those instructions. Do not go out into the community.

The quicker we stop the spread, the more handle, the more control we'll have over this virus.

And as the Chief Medical Officer will update the community this morning, we have had an increase — a substantial increase — in the number of cases again overnight. I don't want to see that number going up as rapidly.

We have to contain the spread, and this is exactly the critical time in NSW for that to occur.

I also want to thank the NSW Police Force for their contribution in relation to containing the spread, and making sure people are complying.

We know it's a tough time for many in the community, and my heart breaks for those businesses that had to shut their doors. My heart breaks for people who don't have a job anymore.

But please be assured that all governments are working hard to provide support to help all of us get through the next few months. It will be difficult.

I also want to thank our school communities. For many people, they had to change what they were doing, or think about what they were doing, and I want to thank our teachers and I want to thank our parents and school communities for the way in which they've responded to the Government's direction yesterday.

This is a difficult time for us, but I'm confident NSW will control as much as we can the spread of this virus, so long as everybody steps up and does what they need to do.

But we are at a critical stage, and I can't emphasise that enough.

Reporter: Premier, do you accept that it is unacceptable, the level of confusion that you've caused over schools?

Premier: Look, our direction in schools is very clear. I'll ask the Minister for Education to also discuss how school communities are adapting. Schools stay open. If you need to send your child to school, schools stay open.

However, we are recommending at this time that parents keep their children at home. And I said that yesterday, and I say that again today.

We appreciate, we appreciate what a challenging time this is for everybody, but we know for practical reasons a third of parents were keeping their kids at home last week. Yesterday, that number went up substantially, even before the messaging around what we were recommending.

And we also appreciate - and let me be frank, based on health advice, we don't know what the next five or six weeks will look like.

We are entering a period where our schools are about to go into school holidays, and it's appropriate for us to make sure we get the home learning up and ready.

This has been a good chance for us, an opportunity for us, to make sure that whether it's through web-based tools or whether it's through home learning, that we have the systems in place to support our children, to support our students, given what we might face into the future.

Good government means prudent planning, it means making sure you have a no-regrets policy. And I have a no-regrets policy. I'm incredibly pleased with the decisions we've taken to date. I don't regret any of them because I believe they're in the best interests of our citizens, and I continue to make decisions based on the best interests of our citizens, because we are in uncertain times.

I want to look back and think that every time we made a decision it was the right one for our people. And I don't care what criticism I get. Throw it at me, because I'm doing it because I believe it's in the best interests of the citizens of NSW.

We are a different state to the rest of Australia. We have the most people returned from overseas. We have the highest number of cases. We have the highest concentration. But to give you assurance, we also have the highest rates of testing, and that's what's giving me comfort.

Reporter: Is there something that's prompted this new warning from the two of you today about self-isolation?

Premier: Yes, because if you look around the world, if you see how the virus is getting out of control around the world, if you see the huge escalation in deaths, many countries did not control the spread at this stage of the virus. Right?

We can tell from our numbers — and they're going up quite significantly every day — but many countries did not take some of the actions this early on in the process in order to control the spread.

I don't want to be another example of a jurisdiction that didn't do what it needed to do at the right time. And I've got an outstanding chief medical officer, and her advice means everything to me. But so does my ability to make decisions for my citizens.

Again, I don't care what criticism I get, I will do what's right for our people.

Reporter: Can we just get clarification on the school issue? Is it a recommendation or a directive? I got a note from our school principal saying, "Do not send your children to school unless you, as in parents, are in emergency services and essential service"?

Premier: We've said schools are open. Schools are open and a safe place.

We know that for some families, they have no option to keep their children at home during this time. I appreciate that, but schools are a safe place.

And they're even safer when there's less children there, for the teachers, right?

So, we know that the decision we've taken is the best one for NSW, for practical reasons. We knew already the level of concern in the community was there, because at least a third of parents...

Reporter: Premier, did you hear his question? He said his principal said not to turn up at school unless they're [in] emergency...

Premier: I will ask the Minister for Education to talk about [that]... certainly the communication I've seen has been very clear. And I know both the secretary and the minister have met with all our stakeholder communities yesterday.

Reporter: Do you accept how ridiculously conflicting it is for a parent to get a note that says, "You can only send your child to school if you're an emergency services essential worker", when you're standing up here, saying, "That's not the case"?

NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell: The message is clear. School is open for those who need to attend.

We have said to our school principals, you need to communicate to your school families, parent communities and carers about what they need to do.