A man considered a close contact of a COVID-19 case at a Sydney gym says 10 days passed until health authorities told him to self-isolate, and he’s yet to hear anything from Fitness First.
“It seems like a big oversight,” the man, who wished to remain anonymous, told news.com.au on Tuesday.
He said he exercised at Fitness First Bond Street, the company’s largest club in the CBD, on Thursday, August 20.
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Exactly a week later, NSW Health advised anyone who attended the gym on the afternoon of August 20 or 21 was considered a “casual contact” and should monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, “and if they develop, get tested right away and isolate”.
“NSW Health is calling to advise any close contacts who must immediately self-isolate for 14 days,” it said in a post at 11.14am on August 27.
At 5.39pm that same day, the department issued a public health alert stating it was contacting people who attended on both August 20 and 21 between 12pm and 4.30pm “to determine their level of contact”.
But this gym goer told news.com.au the health department’s contact tracing team didn’t call him until Sunday, August 30.
He was out in public when he was told to “outright get a test and isolate” for two weeks from the date he was potentially exposed to coronavirus.
“At that point, it was about day 10 or 11 of that two-week period,” he told news.com.au.
“I’ve only got to isolate for about three days. I could’ve literally been wandering around with COVID for about 10 days and infecting who knows.
“Fortunately, I’m negative.”
He said his housemate first brought the alert to his attention after seeing it posted on Facebook earlier in the week.
“They (the health department) very clearly knew but took forever to contact me,” he said.
The man noted Fitness First Bond Street is listed as a COVID-19 case location on the NSW Health website under “monitor for symptoms”.
However, it also states: “If you are contacted by NSW Health and identified as a close contact you must immediately self-isolate for 14 days.”
On Tuesday, he said Fitness First was yet to tell him “anything”.
“As far as patron loyalty, I would’ve expected something from Fitness First. Especially as this is not isolated,” he said.
He said the Bond Street facility is closed on weekends but given it is for “Platinum” members they can access every other Fitness First in the country, aside from the “Titanium” club at Barangaroo.
On August 30, NSW Health advised people who used the weights room at Fitness First in Randwick between 3.30pm and 4.15pm on August 23 they were “considered close contacts of a previously reported case and should immediately isolate for 14 days since that date and get tested.”
A member of that gym branch, in the city’s eastern suburbs, told news.com.au they were contacted by NSW Health after attending on that day but had also signed a friend in as a “guest”, which they described as “common practice”.
“If a visiting friend or family member wants to workout with you, they’ll receive access to the same privileges as you for a nominal fee,” Fitness First states on its website, noting it is $22 to attend “as a guest of a member”.
The company also offers free guest passes for a trial of the gym, valid for one day and to be redeemed within seven days from the date of issue.
The gym goer said NSW Health did not contact their friend and claimed the department “had no idea that signing in as a guest was an option”.
The global fitness brand has had a number of people positive for COVID-19 attend its gyms in NSW including at Fitness First Balgowlah.
The person was at the gym in northern Sydney from 9am to 12pm on August 23.
“If you are contacted by NSW Health and identified as a close contact you must immediately self-isolate for 14 days,” the department states.
A NSW Health spokesperson said the agency works with pulic health officials “immediately after a case tests positive”.
“A case notified on the evening of 25 August attended Bond St Fitness First prior to testing positive. As soon as information about this location was known, NSW Health distributed a public health alert to the media.
“NSW Health then worked with the gym, including undertaking a site visit to assess the potential contact of more than 1500 people who had accessed the gym on 20 and 21 August. Subsequently, NSW Health called all known potentially exposed gym members to discuss the potential level of risk.”
The spokesperson said those deemed close contact must quarantine for 14 days after their visit.
“Any close contacts who develop symptoms must get tested for COVID-19. Other gym members should look out for symptoms and get tested immediately if even the mildest of symptoms develop.”