Asymptomatic people active in the community are spurring consistently high COVID case numbers, New South Wales Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said.
Announcing 98 new cases on Monday, including 37 who were infectious in the community for at least one day, she said there were “misunderstandings” circulating.
She said health officials were being presented with the question: “If I am well, how can I possibly infect someone else?”
But with the Delta variant spreading, people were passing on the virus before they’d begun showing “any symptoms at all”.
“The reality is, you don’t know,” she said.
“You don’t know that you have the disease and actually, with the Delta variant, you are most likely to spread it to others even just before or around the time before you have symptoms.”
Transmission within the household and the workplace continues to drive stubbornly high cases of COVID.
Of the new 98 cases on Monday, 43 were acquired within the household while 18 were close contacts in other settings.
“Unfortunately, the Delta variant, with its transmissibility, requires us almost to be perfect at all times,” she said.
“Don’t go and visit anyone else. Don’t have anyone into your home. Please be so safe when you are going outside.”
Premier Gladys Berejiklian, however, maintains it is possible to eliminate the virus from the community.
The lockdown, which was initially meant to only last a week in four council areas, has been extended until, at least, the end of the month.
But Berejiklian says the current measures have the potential to stop the outbreak in its tracks.
“We know the Delta variant is nothing like we have seen,” she said.
“We know how challenging it is but we wouldn’t have thrown everything at it if we didn’t have a chance of quashing it.
“If we all work together then we can quash it.”