COVID-19 Delta strain that is more dangerous and extremely transmissible has led to almost 40 locally acquired cases within the last 24 hours, particularly in western Sydney with AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid saying that NSW will face a “disaster” if lockdown ends before the state eliminates the current COVID-19 outbreak. Meanwhile the unprecedented police deployment in south western Sydney has been criticised as heavy handed and discriminatory that will put strain on multicultural community’s relationship with police.

NSW Health says there are now about 7,000 close contacts linked to Sydney’s COVID-19 outbreak with new alerts  issued for yesterday for Burwood, Merrylands and Auburn adding to a large number of suburbs in South Western Sydney the day before (See table below).

Since 7 am today, Friday, more than 100 extra police officers including mounted police have been deployed around south western Sydney to ensure compliance with health regulations and government lockdown restrictions.

The Premier of NSW met with almost 250 multicultural community leaders online from Sydney’s south-westonline  yesterday following the announcement of the major police operation.

Western Sydney Migrant Resource Centre CEO Kamalle Dabboussy said that it was a constructive meeting, with questions around policing, vaccine supplies and testing rates. He said concerns were raised about the intensified police presence but assurances were given that police would work with the community.

Lakemba MP Jihad Dib said the situation was fragile and strong-arming was not the answer as it could lead to angst and stigmatism, saying, “while it’s important to have compliance … what we need to do is make sure we don’t create it in a way that instils panic or fear.

He said the focus should be on communication not fines as the first task at hand is to make sure everyone understands clearly what they can and can’t do while pointing out that, “people will be compliant when you give them reasons why they need to be and make it clear.

“Remember, if we’re all in this together, we’re all in it together not one group separate to the other,” he emphasised.

Meanwhile Sydney Alliance, an umbrella body of diverse community organisations in Western Sydney has condemned the NSW government’s decision to send “100 mounted police officers to southwest Sydney to enforce lockdown restrictions.”  

Mary Waterford AM, Chair of Sydney Alliance, said, “A public health response should be led by community and health professionals, not police.” 

“Sydney Alliance represents Sydney-siders from across the diversity of our city. We are united in our outrage that the NSW government is approaching Sydney-siders in radically different ways depending on where they live. While people in the Eastern Suburbs or the Northern Beaches were given messages “to stay home”, people in Western Sydney are met with police,” Ms Waterform added.  

“The NSW government needs to implement a public health strategy that takes care of every person, including low-income and migrant communities in southwest Sydney.” 

Many migrants in this area have been persecuted in their home country and many are already disproportionately targetted by police. This punitive response is not helpful in the longer-term building of community relations and will also not help prevent the spread of Covid.”

“As the government locks down Sydney to keep us all safe from the coronavirus pandemic, we call on them to have a fair and consistent approach across our city. Our government should always prioritise engaging and educating communities over excessive policing over and a punitive response.”

Assistant Commissioner Tony Cooke said multicultural liaison officers were deployed in the area weeks ago and police will endeavour to be as fair as possible.

“This is about us working together to comply with these orders and about police support, where we don’t get that compliance, however, we will enforce.”