A quiet George Street promenade is pictured on a usually busy evening in Sydney on July 17, 2021, after authorities ordered new restrictions as a weeks-long lockdown failed to quash an outbreak of the Covid-19 coronavirus. ( AFP / Steven Saphore)

Facebook users share fake 'lockdown extension' notice for Australian state

Copyright AFP 2017-2022. All rights reserved.

An image shared repeatedly on Facebook purports to show an official notice from Australia's New South Wales Ministry of Health announcing that a lockdown in greater Sydney will be extended until December 2021. The image, however, has been doctored from a July 14 announcement extending the lockdown to July 30, 2021.

The image was shared by an Australian-based user here.

The image appears to show a New South Wales Health (NSW Health) media release.

The headline reads: “Lockdown extended to 30 December 2021”.

The release goes on to state: “The current lockdown will be extended for at least another 5 months. This means restrictions currently in place across Greater Sydney including the [Central Coast], Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour will remain in place until this time".

Sydney, the capital of New South Wales, has seen a spike in cases of the highly transmissible delta variant of Covid-19.

The city was put into lockdown in order to stop the spread in June.

The image has been shared by other Facebook users here, here and here.

The image, however, has been fabricated.

NSW Health told AFP the image does not show a genuine media release.

It directed readers to its official channels -- NSW Health and NSW Government -- for information on current Covid-19 restrictions.

As of July 28, 2021, there has been no announcement about a five-month extension of the greater Sydney lockdown.

Doctored image

The image featured in the Facebook post is a digitally altered version of this July 14 media release from NSW Health.

The original release announced the lockdown would be extended until July 30, 2021, as shown in the image comparison below:

A screenshot comparison of the hoax image (L) and the authentic NSW Health media release (R).

Both the doctored image and the authentic media release display the same publication date: “14 Jul 2021”.

As of July 28, 2021, NSW Health's media releases show there was no announcement about a lockdown extension to December 30.

A search of digital archives also did not reveal there was an announcement about a five-month extension of lockdown either -- see here, here and here.