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‘Serious situation’: New virus case in NSW

Health authorities in NSW are scrambling to deal with a “serious situation” after a hotel quarantine worker tested positive to coronavirus in Sydney.The woman worked across two hotels, the Novotel, which housed returned overseas travellers, and the Ibis in Darling Harbour, with staff now on high alert.NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the situation was “very…

Health authorities in NSW are scrambling to deal with a “serious situation” after a hotel quarantine worker tested positive to coronavirus in Sydney.

The woman worked across two hotels, the Novotel, which housed returned overseas travellers, and the Ibis in Darling Harbour, with staff now on high alert.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the situation was “very serious”, but still manageable.

The state’s Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the woman carried out domestic duties at the hotels and travelled to work from Minto, in Sydney’s southwest, by train and light rail.

Five family members, whom the woman lives with, have so far tested negative to COVID-19 but will complete 14 days isolation.

The case has sparked a testing blitz of hotel staff, and anyone living in the Minto area has been urged to come forward for testing, while those who travelled on particular public transport services have also been told to get swabbed and self-isolate until further notice.

It is too early to tell how the woman caught the virus and whether or not it was from a returned traveller.

Mr Hazzard said he was alerted to the new case in the early hours of Thursday morning.

“We would have been saying today is 26 days without any cases, but we now have one case,” he said.

He then woke up chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant on Thursday morning to talk about the case.

“We are working through the issues,” he said.

Health authorities are now racing to alert close contacts, and investigations are under way.

The woman worked at the Ibis on Friday, November 27, and the Novotel on November 28, 29 and 30.

Anyone who worked at those two hotels on those days has been told to monitor for symptoms and self-isolate until they are tested and receive a negative result.

News of the case came just hours after Ms Berejiklian revealed the latest wave of eased restrictions, particularly around venues and stadiums, but she and Mr Hazzard confirmed the new case would not influence those changes.

When asked whether Thursday’s case would trigger any change to restrictions, he said: “I doubt it very much.

“We have a fantastic public health team that manages these things extremely well.”

He acknowledged when the government revealed changes to restrictions, Ms Berejiklian expected more cases to pop up.

“As Health Minister, I anticipate that because we are in a pandemic,” Mr Hazzard said.

“If you’ve got any symptoms, no matter how mild, please don’t go to work, please don’t go shopping and stay home and wait for test results.”

Speaking to the media on Thursday, Ms Berejiklian said she is confident the health team is on top of the virus.

“There is a stark reminder of how contagious the virus is,” she said, noting that managing returned travellers in hotel quarantine is a “mammoth exercise”.

In terms of reversing the easing of restrictions the Premier said she “doesn’t want to go backwards”.

“There’s no change in what we are intending to do on Monday but if that advice changes we will act accordingly.”

RELATED: NSW restrictions eased

“The person, who lives in southwestern Sydney, travelled from Minto to Central and on the light rail from Central to Darling Harbour on a number of occasions while potentially infectious,” the department said in a statement.

“NSW Health will be asking people who travelled on the same services to get tested immediately and self-isolate until further advised by NSW Health. The route and line details will be provided later today.”

Urgent genome testing is under way to determine how the woman became ill, with Dr Chant saying health authorities must keep “an open mind”.

The strain was different to the one previously circulating through the state, she said.

Dr Chant said people who travelled on the light rail and train network during the times and days below should isolate and get tested until further advised by NSW Health:


  • Friday, November 27: Convention to Central at 4.01pm – 4.11pm
  • Saturday, November 28: Convention to Central at 3.14pm – 3.29pm
  • Sunday, November 29: Convention to Capitol Square 3.58pm – 4.09pm
  • Sunday, November 29: Capitol Square to Central 4.55pm – 5.03pm
  • Monday, November 30: Central to Convention 06.39am – 6.54am
  • Monday, November 30: Convention to Central 3.10pm – 3.26pm


  • Friday, November 27: Minto to Lidcombe 04.55am – 5:52am
  • Friday, November 27: Central to Lidcombe 4.12pm – 4.49pm
  • Saturday, November 28: Central to Lidcombe 3.31pm – 4.32pm
  • Sunday, November 28: Central to Lidcombe 5.05pm – 5.44pm
  • Monday, November 30: Lidcombe to Central 06:14am – 06:37am
  • Monday, November 30: Central to Minto 3.28pm – 4.20pm

The new case comes a day after Dr Chant told reporters the virus was “virtually eliminated” in NSW.

“I think that on the balance of probability, we probably have virtually eliminated community transmission,” Dr Chant said.

“There’s always room for doubt there because the virus can be so stealthy … There are no absolutes with COVID.

“But all our intelligence would suggest it’s been long enough (since) having a locally acquired case where we don’t know the source.”

Dr Chant did, however, caution that new cases were likely to pop up.

Twelve Sydney suburbs were put on alert on Wednesday night after traces of the virus were found in sewage.

Fragments of the virus that causes COVID-19 were detected in samples taken on November 29 from the sewerage system that drains parts of Riverstone, Vineyard, Marsden Park, Shanes Park, Quakers Hill, Oakville, Box Hill, The Ponds, Rouse Hill, Nelson, Schofields and Colebee.

Meanwhile, just last week, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the state would move to a “hot spot” system and there would have to be a “massive outbreak” for them to slam the border shut again.

“There are so many variables here, each particular case has got to be looked at on its merits and (we have to) work out what the risk is to Queensland,” she said.

The revelation also comes after West Australian Premier Mark McGowan revealed the state would open its border to NSW on December 8. This is now likely to be at risk, given NSW needed to go 28 days without a case to trigger the reopening.

Another nine infections were diagnosed in hotel quarantine to 8pm Wednesday.

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