Hundreds of Sydneysiders have been put on high alert after a Covid-positive hotel quarantine security guard visited several venues and caught public transport.
The worker’s positive test was reported on Saturday night, breaking New South Wales’ streak of 55 days without a locally-acquired case.
The 47-year-old man works at the Sofitel Wentworth and the Mantra Hotel at Haymarket.
He was infectious while working a shift at the Mantra from 7pm on Friday night to 7am on Saturday, coming into contact with 130 people.
Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said the security guard then visited Angelo Anestis Aquatic Centre in Bexley on Saturday, March 13 from 9am to 9.30am and Pancakes on the rocks in Beverly Hills the same day from 10.45am to midday.
The man worked at the Mantra Hotel at Haymarket and the Sofitel Wentworth (pictured) housing returned international travellers on March 11 and 12 while infectious
Dr Chant said the man visited Bexley aquatics centre (pictured) on Saturday, March 13 from 9- 9:30am
The security guard also visited Pancakes on the rocks in Beverly Hills on Saturday, March 13 from 10.45am to midday
The man, whose household has since tested negative, also caught a train from Hurstville to the city arriving at 6.30pm on March 12 and from the city to Hurstville leaving at 7am.
‘At the moment we think these venues are low-risk but what we’re doing is reviewing CCTV footage to refine the information, and we will be using that text to those patrons that have used the QR codes for these venues,’ Dr Chant said.
‘It is likely some additional venues will be identified.’
Dr Chant said the hypothesis was that the security guard caught the virus at Sofitel Wentworth during a shift on 7pm March 6 to 7am on March 7 when there was an infected guest at the hotel at the same time.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the security guard was out in Sydney while infectious but ‘not excessively so’ and he was confident about the likelihood of preventing an outbreak.
‘I am relatively relaxed today, knowing we have the systems in place that we have, and I am also relaxed about the fact that the testing did its job, picked up the gentleman,’ he said.
The man also caught a train from Hurstville to the city arriving at 6.30pm on March 12 and from the city to Hurstville leaving at 7am
The worker’s positive tests was reported on Saturday night, breaking the state’s streak of 55 days without a locally-acquired case
Venues visited by the infected worker
Angelo Anestis Aquatic Centre in Bexley – Saturday, March 13 from 9 to 9:30am.
Pancakes on the rocks at Beverly Hills – Saturday, March 13 from 10:45am to midday.
A train from Hurstville to the city arriving at 6:30pm on Friday, March 12 and city to Hurstville leaving at 7am.
However, he said he was disappointed that NSW residents had relaxed their adherence to coronavirus rules and precautions.
‘I think the message from this to everybody is don’t be complacent. I have certainly seen complacency everywhere I go, actually, now,’ he said.
‘Our hotel quarantine system is all that is standing between us and situations like England, the [United] Sates, South America. We need to recognise we all need to do our bit.’
Mr Hazzard the new case highlights the importance of staying vigilant despite the state enjoying a 55-day streak.
‘This is the reality of a pandemic. The science and medicine can only go so far… don’t become complacent,’ he said.
‘It is a real and present danger that will continue until we have most of the population vaccinated.
‘As we have said all along, vaccination helps but it does not necessarily stop you getting the virus.
‘The purpose of vaccination is of course, as you are well aware, having two doses in the case of Pfizer, and with AstraZeneca, it makes you far less likely to get as sick as you would get an far less likely to die.’
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the man received his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on March 2, but has not yet had his second shot. It takes up to two weeks for the jab’s full immunity.
‘I’m not disturbed by it, I’m not surprised by it because you would expect these things to happen on the odd occasion,’ he said.
‘There are no risk-free responses when you deal with Covid-19, it is unrealistic and naive to think so… there are always vulnerabilities.
‘This is an important point, the [effectiveness of the] vaccination is not immediate. I have had my second dose and it does take a while,’ Mr Morrison said, moments after receiving the jab.
‘You should still try to observe the Covid-safe behaviours — I’m wearing a mask today.’
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said it was ‘unusual’ for someone to catch coronavirus after getting the first jab, but no unexpected.
‘This is not a silver bullet that is going to fix everything right away,’ he said alongside the prime minister.
‘There will still be outbreaks, even as we go through this vaccination program.’
Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said the hypothesis was that the security guard caught the virus at Sofitel Wentworth during a shift on 7pm March 6 to 7am on March 7 when there was an infected guest at the hotel at the same time
NSW Health said the emergence of the case ‘underscores the need for continued community vigilance for any signs and symptoms that could be Covid-19’
Professor Kelly said a ‘small proportion’ of people may get ‘mildly sick’ in the unlikely event they caught the virus, but would not become seriously ill.
‘There is a time lag of getting that vaccine and the protection kicking in, of a few weeks, and as you get the second dose, particularly with the Pfizer vaccine, that protection increases,’ he said.
Health authorities are working to identify where the virus came from and who may have been exposed.
‘The source of the new infection reported overnight is under investigation and urgent genome sequencing is underway,’ Dr Stephen Conaty from NSW Health said.
NSW Health said the emergence of the case ‘underscores the need for continued community vigilance for any signs and symptoms that could be Covid-19’.
‘It is critical that everyone continues to practise Covid-safe behaviours and that people come forward for testing if they have even the mildest of symptoms,’ a statement read.
Scott Morrison received his second Pfizer vaccination dose on Sunday morning. Pictured getting his first jab on February 21
The case will be recorded in Monday’s figures as it was detected after 8pm on Saturday.
There were no locally-acquired Covid-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday, and three cases in travellers in hotel quarantine.
The tally came from more than 9,200 tests.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant will address the state at 1pm on Sunday with more details.
Meanwhile, Scott Morrison received his second Pfizer vaccination dose on Sunday morning.
The prime minister joined 20 nurses, GPs, frontline workers, aged care staff and ADF personnel to receive their first dose on February 21.
It has now been three weeks – the recommended waiting time between jabs.