'Scariest period' for NSW but no lockdown for now

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian. File photo: Getty
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian. File photo: Getty
Gladys Berejiklian says New South Wales is in the "scariest period" since the pandemic began, but has ruled out further restrictions for now.

The premier told reporters that she and Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant were of equal view on the risk facing the state.

She also confirmed that she had tested negative for the virus on Thursday after being in the same room as Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall on Tuesday night at parliament house.

Mr Marshall said he had tested positive to the virus after dining at a restaurant in Sydney's east on Monday night, at the same time as a previously reported case linked to the Bondi cluster.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said he had tested negative after waking on Thursday to a text from NSW Health saying he had been in contact with a suspected case.

NSW Health figures show there were 18 new cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday, 13 of which were announced earlier.

There were another six cases detected after the 8pm cut off which will be included in Friday's official tally.

This means there's a total of 11 new cases linked to the outbreak that began in Bondi last week.

Of the 11 new cases, all but one are linked to a known case or the Bondi cluster, and urgent investigations are under way into how a man in his 40s caught the virus. He's the second man in as many days who has contracted the virus from an unknown source.

Mr Marshall's positive diagnosis sent shock waves through Parliament House, and most most staff were told to stay home while a skeleton staff of MPs underwent rapid testing to allow the NSW budget to be passed.

"We've been testing ... and have been progressively through who this gentleman has come into contact with," Dr.Chant said.

Mr Marshall issued a statement saying he was "doing fine and will continue to strictly follow the advice of health authorities"

"I have been in isolation in Sydney since late Tuesday night, when I received a text message from NSW Health."

Mr Marshall has been isolating at his Sydney flat since Tuesday night and won't be able to return to his Armidale home for at least 14 days. His ministerial staff are also in isolation.

He had dined with three of his Nationals colleagues -Trevor Khan, Steph Cooke and Ben Franklin - with all three understood to have tested negative.

The four MPs were in parliament on Tuesday afternoon after attending a partyroom meeting earlier in the day.

Government Whip Adam Crouch instructed MPs to "stay put" until they receive an update.

"If you are currently in Parliament House remain in Parliament House," he said in a statement.

"If you are not in Parliament House, remain where you are."

Media and non-essential staff have been told to leave, and get tested.

Only 16 MPs are inside the NSW Parliament on Thursday - just enough to pass the 2021/22 budget handed down this week before the current session is suspended.

Opposition Leader Chris Minns has postponed his budget reply speech due on Thursday.

"All sides agree now is not the time for politics ... we need to get through what is a very difficult health situation in Sydney," he told Sydney radio 2GB.

The NSW Premier has confirmed that no lockdown is being put in place for Sydney.

"It is a very contagious variant but at the same time we are at this stage comfortable that the settings that are in place are the appropriate settings, but that is so long as everybody does the right thing. Please be extra cautious," Ms Berejiklian said.

Police have also confirmed they are carrying out checks to ensure people are doing the right thing, issuing around 150 cautions to people for not wearing masks on public transport and other places.

Police also warned that during school holidays highway patrol would be checking people are not breaking orders not to travel.

NSW Health has also confirmed fragments of the virus have been detected at sewage plants that service Sydney's northwest and southern suburbs as well as the Illawarra.

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