An illuminated sign is displayed in front of the Opera House and a ferry as part of COVID-19 restrictions for New Year celebrations around Circular Quay in central Sydney on December 31, 2020. (AFP / David Gray)

Misleading posts claim Australia’s New South Wales declared end to Covid-19 pandemic

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Multiple Facebook posts claim the Australian state of New South Wales declared an end to the Covid-19 pandemic and that the state, without a mask mandate, recorded no cases in over a month. The claim is misleading: while the state marked its 50th consecutive day of no locally transmitted Covid-19 cases on March 8, 2021, it did record several imported cases; residents are also still required to wear masks in certain circumstances.

The claim was made in a text graphic published on Facebook here on March 3, 2021.

“NSW, a state with the largest population in Australia, declared the end of Covid-19 pandemic. Without masks, it saw no confirmed cases of Covid-19 for a month,” the Korean-language post reads.

NSW refers to New South Wales, a state in southeastern Australia that is home to Sydney.

Screenshot of the misleading Facebook post, taken on March 5, 2021.

The claim was also shared on Facebook here and here.

However, the claim is misleading.

As of March 8, 2021, NSW has marked 50 consecutive days of no locally transmitted Covid-19 cases.

The state, however, has recorded several imported cases from overseas in the same time period, according to government figures. For instance, the state recorded 15 new imported cases between March 1 and 7, 2021.

There are also no credible reports or official statements to suggest NSW declared the pandemic is over. 

The claim that NSW is “without masks” is also misleading.

According to the state’s latest public health order dated February 26, 2021, residents are required to wear masks under three circumstances: on public transport and at public transport waiting areas; at airports and on commercial domestic flights; in an indoor area of a place of public worship and members of the congregation are singing.

“You may be fined $200 [Australian dollars] on the spot for not wearing a face mask,” the order reads.