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Patient zero identified in southwest cluster

The COVID-19 cluster linked to the Crossroads Hotel in southwestern Sydney has continued to explode after 10 more people were diagnosed yesterday and health authorities in NSW say a Melbourne man has been identified as patient zero.The man arrived in NSW on June 30 and visited a workplace in Sydney before going to a party…

The COVID-19 cluster linked to the Crossroads Hotel in southwestern Sydney has continued to explode after 10 more people were diagnosed yesterday and health authorities in NSW say a Melbourne man has been identified as patient zero.

The man arrived in NSW on June 30 and visited a workplace in Sydney before going to a party at the Crossroads Hotel on July 3.

NSW recorded 13 new cases of coronavirus to 8pm on Wednesday, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard confirmed.

“Don’t get an expectation that it (case numbers) will always be zero because we think this virus will continue to transmit lowly,” he said.

“We will have transmission from time to time and that’s just the way it is.”

Three were in hotel quarantine and 10 are linked to the Crossroads Hotel – six of those actually attended the venue and the other two are close contacts.

Two males, aged 24 and 27, acquired the infection at the Planet Fitness Gym in Casula where there was one previously identified case.

Chief medical officer Dr Kerry Chant said the 10 new cases include a 31-year-old male, 32-year-old female, 37-year-old female and 53-year-old male who all attended the Crossroads Hotel on July 3.

A 14-year-old female, who is a close contact of the pub staff case, has also tested positive.

There are two “tertiary” cases meaning they are a close contact of a close contact, Dr Chant explained.

The last is a 33-year-old female who is a close contact of the Blue Mountains case who attended the hotel.

Since 8pm NSW Health also identified one more case – a man in his 20s who is a close contact – bringing the total number of cases linked to the hotel to 34.

“This highlights how COVID-19 can spread and the importance of identifying these contacts very quickly,” Dr Chant said.

“If people isolate we will break the chain of transmission.”

More than 17,000 tests have been conducted in NSW during the last 24 hours.

The deadly virus has spread rapidly through the area forcing a number of establishments to close including a nursing home, a Kmart store, various pubs and a gym.

The Picton Hotel was closed for deep cleaning after a patron who used the gaming room tested positive.

The Wests League Club and the Macarthur Tavern, in the southwestern suburbs, also closed overnight after infected customers visited during the weekend.

Dr Chant said she is concerned about people who may have travelled to NSW from Melbourne before the borders closed.

“We are very concerned about areas where we may have had a number of visitors from Melbourne and the Mitchell Shires. Particularly in our coastal areas and border communities we need to have high rates of testing so if there’s been any seeding we can mop it up,” Dr Chant said.

“The crossroads highlights we won’t gain control of this if we don’t have people on board.”

She said it will take at least two weeks to understand if the state has managed to stem the spread of COVID-19 throughout the southwest.

“We need a period of high testing rates to ensure we’ve stopped it,” she said.

Dr Chant also warned residents to be cautious when visiting aged care facilities.

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