Australia

Health experts baffled by mystery case

NSW health authorities announced eight new cases of COVID-19 community transmission on Wednesday morning.Seven infections were added to Sydney’s northern beaches cluster, taking the outbreak’s total to 97. The daily numbers have progressively grown smaller throughout the week.Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the eighth infection was linked to the case from Sydney’s western suburbs revealed on…

NSW health authorities announced eight new cases of COVID-19 community transmission on Wednesday morning.

Seven infections were added to Sydney’s northern beaches cluster, taking the outbreak’s total to 97. The daily numbers have progressively grown smaller throughout the week.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the eighth infection was linked to the case from Sydney’s western suburbs revealed on Tuesday — a healthcare worker involved in the transfer of patients from the international airport.

Health authorities are still unable to link this healthcare worker’s infection to any known cases, and are investigating where it came from.

NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said the mystery case had transported international travellers on December 14, with genome sequencing suggesting the person’s infection was not acquired from the northern beaches cluster.

“What this shows is, like all things in COVID, it’s important to keep an open mind because … despite that strong face value history, that was not how they acquired their infection,” she told reporters on Wednesday morning.

“How they acquired their infection is yet to be determined.

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“At this point, we have not got a perfect connection, but with some additional genomic sequencing data, we‘ll be pursuing a number of other additional avenues.”

Ms Berejiklian announced a “modest” change to restrictions over the Christmas period.

“We appreciate what a difficult time this is for everybody across the state, in particular our thoughts are with those who are already in isolation because, as we know, when you’re in isolation you can’t have contact with anybody for 14 days, depending when you started that isolation,” she told reporters.

“So our thoughts are with those who will be in isolation over Christmas.”

On December 24, 25 and 26, the following conditions will be in place.

For the northern beaches peninsula zone (north of Narrabeen Bridge, and east of the Baha’i Temple):

There is a new reason for leaving home: to visit the home of others who live within this zone

Up to five visitors (total, including children) will be allowed in homes as long as they reside in the peninsula zone

People may not enter or leave this zone, unless for the four approved reasons already in place

On December 27, the region will revert to existing restrictions.

For the remainder (southern zone) of the northern beaches:

There is a new reason for leaving home: to visit the home of others who live within this zone

Up to 10 visitors (plus primary school children and younger) will be allowed in homes. This may include people from outside this zone, not including the northern beaches peninsula zone

People who reside outside the northern beaches are allowed to visit others in this zone

Residents of this zone may not leave, unless for the four approved reasons already in place

The NSW government will reassess restrictions in this zone after Boxing Day.

For the greater Sydney region, Central Coast, Wollongong and Nepean Blue Mountains:

Restrictions that were due to expire Wednesday night will remain in place

However, primary school aged children and younger will be allowed on top of the 10-visitor cap for homes

On December 27, the region will revert to existing restrictions.

Restrictions for Regional NSW remain unchanged.

NSW Health has said anyone who visited the following Paddington Alimentari cafe, 2 Hopetoun St, Paddington at the following times is considered a close contact and must get tested and isolate for 14 days, regardless of whether a negative result is received: Thursday, December 17, 5.30am-6pm; Friday, December 18, 5.30am-6pm; and Saturday, December 18, 5.30am-6pm.

All patrons who were seated at this venue – inside or outside – should get tested immediately and isolate for 14 days regardless of the result.

Patrons who bought takeaway should monitor for symptoms, and isolate and get tested immediately should they appear.

Visitors to Charlie & Franks, IBM Plaza, Shop 1, 601 Pacific Highway, St Leonards, on Wednesday, December 16, between 9am and 10am are close contacts and should get tested and isolate for 14 days even if they receive a negative result.

The same applies for visitors to Fitness First Mona Vale, Pittwater Place Shopping Centre, 10 Park St, Mona Vale, on Thursday, December 17, between 11.30am and 1pm.

The following public transport routes, B1-2, have been updated, and the same 14-day isolation directive applies:

  • Monday, December 14, departing Wynyard Station Stand B, 5.47pm, arriving Warriewood BLine, Pittwater Rd, 6.40pm
  • Tuesday, December 15, departing Warriewood BLine, Pittwater Rd, 6.39am, arriving Wynyard Station Stand M, 7.29am
  • Tuesday, December 15, departing Wynyard Station Stand B 6.28pm, arriving Warriewood BLine, Pittwater Rd, 6.21pm
  • Wednesday, December 16, departing Warriewood BLine Pittwater Rd 6.53am, arriving Wynyard Station Stand M, 7.41am
  • Wednesday, December 16, departing Wynyard Station Stand B 4.31pm, arriving Warriewood BLine, Pittwater Rd, 5.25pm

Anyone who visited the following venues is considered a casual contact who must immediately get tested and isolate until a negative result is received.

  • Scoop Wholefoods, Shop 6, 10 Park Street, Mona Vale, all times on Wednesday, December 16 through to Friday December 18
  • Scoop Wholefoods, 14 Spit Rd, Mosman, Thursday December 17 between 8am and 10am
  • London Hotel, Paddington, Thursday December 17 between 8.15pm and 9.30pm
  • Brooke Withers Swim School, Warriewood, Wednesday December 16 between 2pm and 3.30pm
  • Warriewood Valley Playground Rocket Park, Warriewood, Thursday December 17 between 10.15am and 12.30pm

The full list of venues can be found here.

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