More than half of NSW’s coronavirus cases caught the infection while abroad, and now figures from the health department reveal the where majority of infectious Australians are flying home from.
According to data from NSW Health, Australians travelling home from Pakistan, the US, UK, India, and cruise ship passengers, are responsible for 58 per cent of coronavirus infections in quarantine.
The vast majority of those returning from overseas are Australian residents who live and work abroad.
Since March 29, there have been 786 confirmed COVID-19 cases among returned travellers, the vast majority of which are Australian nationals.
This means Sydney’s spate of “health hotels” could soon house the last of the state’s remaining cases of the deadly virus, but government figures argue that it’s not all over yet.
The figures obtained by NCA NewsWire suggest cruise passengers and crew accounted for 16 per cent (125 people). These cases involved international cruise ships, not ships that have docked in Australia.
About 14 per cent were Australians returning from Pakistan (109 people), 11 per cent came from the US (87 people), 8.8 per cent from Britain (69 people) and 8.5 per cent from India (67 people).
The virus has those four nations in a stranglehold, particularly the US where more than 7.3 million people have been infected, resulting in 207,000 deaths.
India has 6.3 million infections and close to 100,000 deaths. Pakistan has 313,000 positive cases.
Britain is also grappling with a second wave of the virus.
The UK recorded 7108 daily cases of coronavirus on Wednesday – the second highest number of positive cases since the pandemic began.
Wednesday’s figure falls just 35 cases short of Tuesday’s record high of 7143 cases.
The figures come after NSW recorded six consecutive days of zero community transmission, Premier Gladys Berejiklian confirmed on Thursday.
But health officers are not getting their hopes up just yet.
Chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant and Ms Berejiklian warned the virus was likely “lurking” in the community and are urging residents to remain vigilant.
Ms Berejiklian said while there was again no community transmission, residents “should not assume this zero number is going to continue”.
“We know the disease is lurking in the community, so I don’t want anyone to be surprised if tomorrow or the day after we get cases of community transmission,” she told reporters on Thursday.
On Friday, NSW Health reported four new cases, all of which are returned travellers in hotel quarantine.
While half of the state’s virus cases have come from abroad, another 90 were acquired interstate.
Mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine was introduced on March 28. Since then returning travellers, most of whom are Australian residents, have been ushered on flights directly to a designated health hotel that are constantly staffed by security personnel.
Returnees are swabbed on day two and day 10 of their stay.
People who refuse are required to remain in quarantine for an additional 10 days.