Coronavirus infection surged beyond 3,000 on Friday with big jumps in the number of cases in NSW and Victoria.
Authorities are increasingly concerned about the number of transmissions between Australians who haven’t been overseas or in contact with someone infected.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said there were at least 1,405 COVID-19 cases in the country’s worst-hit state on Friday morning, taking the national total to 3,050.
Victoria said the number of confirmed cases was at 574, with infections increasing by about 10 per cent from Thursday.
In NSW, 877 patients are return travellers and 278 cases had been transmitted locally through close contact with an infected person or a known coronavirus cluster.
NSW Health stressed its concern about 145 cases transmitted locally with an ‘unknown source’.
Dr Chant said 134 people were receiving care with 62 of them at home, 19 in ICU and 53 in standard hospital wards.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the state is at a ‘critical stage’ as the number of coronavirus cases continues to increase in NSW.
‘The one figure that we are most worried about is the number of people that are getting it within the community,’ she said.
‘That’s why it is so important that all of us maintain social distancing if we have to be out and about.
‘And in the case of my parents, I haven’t let them out of the home and I won’t.’
Ms Berejiklian encouraged the vulnerable to call Service NSW on 13 77 88 if they need assistance.
The premier said they have seen ‘far more limited activity everywhere’ and attendance in schools was at 10 per cent or less.
‘It is up to all of us to come together to do our part and deal with the disease at this critical stage,’ Ms Berejiklian said.
‘Because if we keep it contained as much as we can at this stage, we are better off in the next few weeks and months and I can’t stress that enough.
‘So, please heed the warnings. Please don’t move around unless you have to.
‘If you’re an older or vulnerable person, don’t even leave home.’
Professor Brendan Crabb, an infectious disease researcher, told ABC Radio that further measures ‘need to be taken immediately’ to combat the outbreak.
‘The reason being that at this point in time, it’s all we’ve really got, quite a blunt instrument – lockdown,’ he said on Thursday.
‘I would recommend we pull every suppression lever we have now.
‘That means not just flatten the curve, but bend the curve down to a very low level … and then you come out of that.’
Meanwhile, new figures show Waverley Council in Sydney’s eastern suburbs has recorded the highest number of confirmed coronavirus.
The local government area has had 105 cases of COVID-19, according to data published on the NSW Health website on Thursday.
The Sydney LGA has recorded 69, while Northern Beaches and Woollahra have recorded 68 and 66 cases respectively.
Ms Berejiklian said the government was ‘looking very closely’ at the impact of Monday’s shutdowns on pubs, cinemas and churches. If they weren’t sufficient, further action would be taken.
Five people in NSW were handed infringement notices on Thursday for flouting coronavirus public health orders.
Police have the power to hand out fines of $1,000 to individuals and $5,000 to businesses that breach public health orders or ministerial directions.
There are 2,996 confirmed cases of infection in Australia and 13 people have died.