February 29, 2024

NSW hotel quarantine worker in Sydney tests positive to COVID-19

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the easing of restrictions on Monday will go ahead despite…

NSW hotel quarantine worker in Sydney tests positive to COVID-19

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the easing of restrictions on Monday will go ahead despite the confirmation of a new COVID-19 case this morning. 

However, Ms Berejiklian said it was an “evolving situation” and that she “would not hesitate” to act if the advice of health officials changed.

This morning, NSW Health Brad Hazzard confirmed a south-west Sydney woman tested positive for COVID-19, ending the state’s almost month-long streak without any locally acquired cases.

He said the Minto woman was a member of the housekeeping staff at the Novotel and Ibis hotels in Darling Harbour and her test results came in just before 1:30am this morning.

“I was formally advised in writing that we had found one more case in Sydney of COVID-19,” he said.

“We would’ve been saying today was our 26th day — it is our 26th day — without any cases, but we now have one case.”

Mr Hazzard said he wasn’t “overly fussed” about the new case — health authorities have been preparing for it — and it wouldn’t threaten any of the easing of restrictions announced yesterday.

Ms Berejiklian said it was a “very serious situation” and a “stark reminder” of the persistent threat of the virus until a vaccine is distributed.

“At this stage, the health advice doesn’t require us to [go backwards],” she said.

“But if the next few days, the situation changes and health advice changes I will not hesitate to act as the Premier.”

a hotel behind a ferris wheel by a city harbour
The woman worked at Novotel and the Ibis hotels in Darling Harbour.(Supplied: Trivago)

NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant said the worker presented for a test after noticing some minor symptoms, including fatigue.

Dr Chant said the worker did not have direct contact with infected overseas quarantine patients.

“So at the moment there isn’t a smoking gun in terms of how we would say the transmission event happened,” she said.

“And that’s why we’re actually ensuring that there may be other workers as an intermediary, and hence the importance of immediately getting tested.”

Dr Chant said the woman travelled from Minto to Central Station while potentially infectious and then would travel on the light rail from Central to the hotel complex in Darling Harbour.

The train journey, she said, from Minto to the city occurred between from November 27-30, took about an hour and it was unclear which carriage she sat in.

“She did wear a mask, but like all the people who wear a mask, sometimes you adjust it,” Dr Chant said.

“Sometimes it can be poorly fitting. And nothing is a perfect guarantee as we’ve said. But we appreciate that she did [wear one].”

Authorities are still in the early stages of the investigation but Mr Hazzard said he was “quite confident” authorities would be able to determine the source within the next 24 to 48 hours through genome sequencing.

The worker’s household were all urgently tested and authorities have identified other potential close contacts.

“The good news is her five family members were tested overnight and they were negative — that’s a good outcome,” Mr Hazzard said.

Dr Chant said her household were in 14-day isolation and there was a potential they may test positive to coronavirus within the coming days.

Mr Hazzard added people in Minto should be tested if they display any flu-like symptoms.

“We’ll do the tracking and tracing … hopefully it’ll all be OK.”

The new case will be reflected in tomorrow’s figures.

NSW today recorded nine cases in hotel quarantine.