A security guard has contracted COVID-19 while working at a Sydney quarantine hotel, sparking fears of spike in cases across New South Wales.
The security guard worked at the five-star Marriott Hotel in Circular Quay on August 3, 4, 7 and 8.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said the security contractor ‘most probably’ became infected after coming into contact with a return traveller from the US.
The man then visited Sydney Markets at Flemington on August 9 between 8am and 4pm last Sunday while infectious.
He then worked at Parramatta local court on August 10 and 11 between 8.30am and 12.30am.
The man had also worked at the Bankstown Central Shopping Centre on August 8 between 10am and 3pm, before showing symptoms of the virus on August 11.
There are now concerns the quarantine breach could lead to another Sydney cluster and NSW Health has advised anyone who visited the markets, shopping centre or the court to monitor their health and get tested if any symptoms develop.
Dr Chant said on Tuesday that the man’s job would have brought him into contact with a lot of people.
‘This person had worked in a variety of settings, a lot of which would have brought him into contact with other people, particularly in areas concerned about community transmission,’ she said.
Virus detectives were able to trace the source of the transmission through genome sequencing, which revealed the infection was not linked to previously known outbreaks originating from Victoria.
‘What that’s identified is that it’s quite a different sequence to other clusters such as the Crossroads Hotel … this is a different virus, and matches this [overseas traveller],’ Dr Chant explained.
Victoria’s disastrous second wave of COVID-19 cases was sparked by a series of breaches within hotel quarantine.
A lack of training for private security staff and severely lapse infectious controls led to thousands of new infections across the state.
There are now fears the breach in Sydney could lead to a similar outbreak in New South Wales.
Dr Chant said she didn’t believe a breach of safety standards occurred at the quarantine hotel but an investigation is now underway.
New South Wales Police are in charge of heading up the state’s hotel quarantine program, however some private sector security staff have been recruited to assist.
‘What has occurred over the last couple of days, is no doubt concerning,’ NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Leanne McCusker said at the COVID-19 update.
‘NSW Police are working strongly with NSW Health, in terms of the investigation … we are currently doing that as we speak at the Marriott hotel, in terms of viewing CCTV footage, conducting various interviews and having conversations with those that are involved in this matter.’
Three people were diagnosed with coronavirus in NSW on Tuesday following seven new cases on Monday.
While it’s the lowest number of new cases for NSW in more than a month, health authorities have asked residents to remain cautious as there have been 16 cases in the past four weeks which were not linked to any clusters.