A mystery COVID-9 case is being investigated by NSW health authorities, after seven new locally transmitted infections were reported on Christmas Day.
The case in question involves a previously recorded infection — involving a Belrose Hotel worker — from December 23, which remains unlinked to the Avalon cluster, despite both suburbs being in the Northern Beaches government area.
NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant said case investigations and further testing around the Belrose Hotel worker suggest they were likely infectious two weeks ago
“We know that this individual to date has not transmitted infections to others but what we are interested in is knowing how this person acquired the infection because the person is not linked to the cluster,” she said.
“We are asking residents of Belrose, Davidson and surrounding suburbs to be alert for systems and to get tested.
“This will help us in our investigations to better understand how this transmission event to this gentleman occurred and potentially link it to help assist us with the investigation to see how this cluster was initiated.”
Of the seven new cases reported on Friday, one involved a person who works in the northern beaches area and investigations are continuing.
However, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the other six cases were already in household isolation.
“That is a trend we’ll continue to see in the next few days and possibly weeks,” she said.
“People in isolation, the direct contacts will start to test positive and that is where we will see a large number of case numbers eventuate.”
Dr Chant said four of the cases were linked to the Avalon cluster, two were close contacts of previous confirmed cases while one remains under investigation.
Investigations continue into the source of the Avalon cluster, which now has 108 cases connected to it.
There was an additional case — a child linked to Sydney’s Paddington neighbourhood – who was confirmed after the 8pm cut-off and will be included in Saturday’s numbers.
There were also three new cases acquired overseas, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases to 4643 in NSW.
There were 69,809 people tested on Christmas Eve, beating the previous day’s total of 60,184.
Patrons who visited the Paragon Hotel, on Loftus Street in Circular Quay, are also required to self-isolate.
Dr Chant said anyone who visited the venue between 12.45-3.30pm on December 16 for more than an hour are now considered close contacts.
“Get tested immediately and self-isolate for 14 days regardless of the result,” she said on Friday.
“Anyone who was there for less than an hour needs to get tested immediately and self-isolate pending a result.
“People in the general facility who may have attended the hotel, please ensure that you monitor for symptoms and isolate and get tested immediately. It is important you are particularly vigilant.”
COVID-safe Christmas Day gatherings are allowed for all NSW residents, despite the northern beaches cluster hitting 104 cases on Thursday.
A three-day reprieve was granted from December 24-26, with residents north of the Narrabeen Bridge able to have five people from within the local area share a Christmas feed.
The maximum number of people in home gatherings increased for those south of the Narrabeen Bridge, in Greater Sydney, the Central Coast, the Blue Mountains and Wollongong with 10 visitors allowed from anywhere plus children under the age of 12.
For the rest of NSW, 50 people are able to visit another household at any one time.
Ms Berejiklian asked all NSW residents to be “extra vigilant” over the next few days and to limit mobility as much as possible.
“Please do not move around unless you have to,” she said on Christmas Eve.
“We appreciate that there are restrictions in place which allow people to have people into their households but please make sure all of us reduce our mobility apart from those close family gatherings, which we have allowed over the Christmas break, we don’t want people moving around unless you absolutely have to.”
Hundreds of health workers will be ready on the COVID frontline today with 300 testing clinics open across the state.
Ms Berejiklian urged anyone who develops symptoms to get tested immediately.
“Our health people and the supporting pathologists have just been amazing, so even if you get a symptom on Christmas Day or Boxing Day, please go and get tested, do not wait.”
South of the border, Victoria reported no new cases in the 24 hours to midnight, marking 56 days without local coronavirus transmissions in the state.
In Queensland, there were two new virus cases in quarantine, but no new local transmissions.
A full list of NSW locations and public transport routes, and the associated public health advice, is available from the NSW Government website.