City News

Eastern Suburbs and Inner West among Sydney councils with lowest January COVID-19 numbers

The Eastern Suburbs and the Inner West were among Sydney areas with the lowest COVID-19 numbers in the new year. Photo: sydney.com.

By PATRICK MCKENZIE

A recent Sun-Herald analysis has shown that the Eastern Suburbs and Inner West are among the local government areas least impacted by COVID-19 during the first three weeks of January.

The analysis of population data and figures supplied by NSW Health ranked LGAs by both the total number of COVID-19 cases and cases per 100,000 people.

Of 29 councils, all but Randwick Council were ranked in the lower half for total cases, listed at 13th, closely followed by Inner West Council at 15th and Waverley Council at 18th. Woollahra was the lowest in the area at 23rd.

Cases per 100,000 paint a different picture, with Waverley and Randwick both entering the top half at 10th and 12th respectively.

Woollahra was placed 19th while the Inner West neared the bottom at 25th, with 4,910 cases per 100,000 for the period of January 1-20 2022.

The City of Sydney fared quite differently between rankings, coming in at sixth (17,974) in total cases, yet 16th in cases per 100,000 (7,296).

As in last year’s Delta outbreak, LGAs in Sydney’s west suffered the most. Cumberland, Fairfield and Liverpool City Councils were within the top five in both rankings.

The numbers support recent research from Australian Catholic University at the university’s Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences on the impact of inequality on the pandemic in Australia.

While the research was based on figures from the previous two years, the trend has continued into the Omicron outbreak for the precise reason it began in the first place: structural inequality.

Tom Barnes, an economic and senior research fellow at the Institute found that the proportion of blue-collar workers in an LGA was the biggest factor in the spread of COVID-19.

“You had a direct cause and effect between the proportion of blue-collar workers and case numbers… that’s reflecting the fact that these workplaces were not able to operate remotely and there was higher occupational exposure,” Barnes told the Sun-Herald last week.

Fairfield City Council has more than 40 per cent of its workforce in blue-collar occupations – seven times higher than in Woollahra.

Affordability and availability of rapid antigen tests and population density have deepened the trend.

Federal Investigation

Price gouging continues to be reported after the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC), the national consumer watchdog, warned businesses earlier this month that those engaging in “cartel conduct” would be named and shamed or could face legal action.

Last week, the Australian Federal Police announced that they had begun investigations into rapid test price gouging following referrals from the ACCC, with Assistant Commissioner Nigel Ryan telling retailers to “not risk jail time or a significant fine for a few extra dollars”.

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