New South Wales reaches more than 500 cases of COVID-19 with 97 new infections By Sarah Thomas

Figures published by the health department showed that as of 8:00pm on Saturday there were 533 positive cases.

NSW Health said several new diagnoses of COVID-19 had occurred among backpackers in the Bondi area.

It is warning that some new cases in Bondi are linked to two parties last weekend.

People who attended the Boogie Wonderland party at the Bucket List bar in Bondi and another event at Club 77 in Darlinghurst on March 15 are urged to be alert for symptoms.

If symptoms develop they should seek testing and tell the medical service that they attended one of the parties.

A childcare worker is also among the latest confirmed cases.

The employee worked at Smeaton Grange Young Academics Child Care Centre.

All staff and children who attended the centre between March 2 and 16 are being contacted and told to self-isolate.

The centre will be closed until March 30.

Two more cases have also emerged from a Sydney Church of Christ service on March 8 at Ryde Civic Centre, bringing the total to nine out of a congregation of 300.

NSW has of 8:00pm yesterday had 52,663 cases tested with 52,130 excluded.

Out of the 533 cases, 251 were acquired overseas, 131 were acquired through contact with a confirmed case, 46 came from unidentified contact and 105 are under investigation.

There have also been five cruise ship voyages linked to COVID-19 cases that have docked in Sydney this month: two trips on the Voyage of the Seas, and the Ovation of the Seas, the Ruby Princess and Celebrity Solstice.

All passengers and crew have been asked to self-isolate.

The latest rise in cases comes as authorities struggle to maintain social distancing, particularly across Sydney’s beaches including Bondi Beach which was closed yesterday.

Due to high numbers of people gathering the following beaches have also been closed: Manly (south end), Tamarama, Maroubra, Bronte, Coogee, Clovelly, Dee Why, Freshwater, Long Reef and Palm Beach.

The Northern Beaches Council warned that more public areas would be closed “if people don’t follow the rules”.

Yesterday, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard insisted people heed advice on social distancing amid the rising number of infections.

He said cases had doubled in the past week and the problem was still “over the horizon”.

“Save yourself and save your family. Listen to the messages that are coming out, not just from Government officials but from doctors.”

A ban on travel to Lord Howe Island was also announced yesterday and came into effect at 5:00am today in a bid to keep the virus away from the small community of 347 people.

The borders are closed to all except residents, health workers and other essential service workers.

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