The NSW Hunter and Upper Hunter region will enter a snap seven-day lockdown after a beach party near Newcastle, which authorities believe may be linked to a COVID-19 outbreak.
Chief Medical Officer Kerry Chant said five new cases had been found in the Newcastle area and nine on the Central Coast .
"Obviously we're very concerned about regional NSW," she said on Thursday.
Authorities are concerned that the virus which is raging in Greater Sydney is seeping into the regions and NSW Health has now picked up traces of COVID-19 in wastewater in Armidale and Dubbo.
The new restrictions will apply to eight government areas in the Hunter and Upper Hunter where cases are on the rise.
It's believed a gathering at a beach near Newcastle by a group from Greater Sydney is responsible for the outbreak .
"We believe there is linkages back to Western Sydney. That's all I'm prepared to say on the matter because our focus is working with individuals to track down the chains of transmission," Dr Chant told reporters.
She wasn't clear on whether the group was exempt from travelling when they met at Blacksmiths Beach in Lake Macquarie on Friday night.
"We think the source originated from a gathering on Blacksmiths Beach on Friday night.
"Can I just thank the people involved? Not that I want to see gatherings, but I also want people to tell us the truth," she said.
"If they've made a wrong judgment, if they've taken course of action that they regret, please tell us the truth because that will allow us to find out who was there and stop any chains of transmission," she said.
Eight areas of Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Port Stephens, Cessnock, Dungog, Singleton and Muswellbrook are affected by the stay-at-home orders from 5pm Thursday until 12.01am on August 13.
The areas face the same restrictions currently in force for the Greater Sydney, Illawarra, Shellharbour and Central coast regions, including moving schools to learn from home.
"So that means no school and the same stay at home provisions apply," Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
She also confirmed that some of the 180,000 extra Pfizer doses heading to NSW will be redirected to the regions.
"It means that in the week of 16 August, we can redirect those doses we had taken from the regions for the HSC students," she said.
The recent outbreak has also closed several schools in the Central Coast area, while nine COVID-19 cases including eight from the same household have been recorded.
Australian Associated Press
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