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Coronavirus numbers in NSW continue to decline, just one new infection recorded

Health authorities in NSW have closed a school after a seven-year-old student tested positive for coronavirus as the Premier declared all children could be back in classrooms full-time by the end of May.

Key points:

  • There are now 3,033 confirmed COVID-19 cases in NSW
  • Authorities warned cases may increase when students return to classrooms next week
  • Police issued 22 tickets at the weekend to people who breached social distancing restrictions

The boy was the sole new case of COVID-19 in NSW despite more than 5,500 people being swabbed in the 24 hours to 8:00pm yesterday. The Warragamba Public School student has mild symptoms, and the campus has been closed today for cleaning. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said authorities expected to see more positive cases of coronavirus as students return to classrooms from next week.

“I say to parents and teachers and school communities, this is likely to occur on a more regular basis when schools go back,” she said. “I anticipate it will happen more frequently but please have confidence we’ve gone through the processes and we know what takes to keep everyone safe when this occurs.”

Ms Berejiklian said authorities would assess schools from May 25, and may restore all students in classrooms if the first two weeks “go well”. “We’re hoping by the end of May there will be a significant proportion of all students going back to school,” she said. “If the first two weeks go well, there’s no reason why we can’t expedite all students having full-time, face-to-face teaching by the end of May, so that’s our target.”

The latest infection brought the state’s total confirmed coronavirus cases to 3,033. Authorities were pleased about testing rates at the weekend, revealing the 5,500 people swabbed yesterday was the highest on a Sunday since the outbreak began. Ms Berejiklian said she was pleased that NSW was “definitely heading in the right direction in terms of having normality return to our lives”.

The Premier also said Year 12 students would be prioritised when face-to-face teaching is phased back in at schools from May 11. About 95 per cent of students across the state have been taking classes from home since strict lockdown measures were put in place in March. “We anticipate next week that, while most schools will have a day or two of [face-to-face] tuition, the vast majority of schools have catered for extra classes for Year 12,” she said.

While most children will attend school campuses for just one day next week, things will be different for HSC students. “We wanted a staged approach but obviously [with] Year 12, we wanted them to get an exemption,” Ms Berejiklian said. Social-distancing rules will still apply in classrooms, where students will be spaced 1.5 metres apart.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said he was pleased with the public’s behaviour since the state’s strict coronavirus shutdown was relaxed slightly on Friday. “There were 22 tickets issued over the three days, but if we go back to last weekend there were over 100 tickets issued,” he said. “Even though there was a relaxation, the people of NSW are still working hard to take this seriously.”

Mr Fuller confirmed interstate NRL teams were applying to travel under an exemption to NSW after the arrival of the New Zealand Warriors in Tamworth yesterday. The NRL season is due to restart later this month.