NSW Health is scrambling to contain the impact of three new locally acquired COVID-19 cases and prevent similar cases in the future.
The state broke its 12-day streak without locally acquired coronavirus cases on Wednesday, after a Sydney airport driver was confirmed to have the virus in the morning and then two mystery cases popped up in the Northern Beaches.
The Northern Beaches cases, a woman in her 60s and a man in his 70s, are close contacts of each other but authorities have not found a connection to any other cases.
Alerts are out for several areas in the Northern Beaches, particularly Avalon and Palm Beach, after the two moved through the community while contagious.
NSW Health is urgently undertaking genomic sequencing and contact tracing to stem the damage and identify the source of the infections. The genome sequencing results will be available on Thursday or Friday.
The cases were identified just hours after a 45-year-old driver transporting international air crew members to and from Sydney Airport and their hotels was confirmed COVID-positive.
NSW is considering changes to quarantining requirements for international air crew, the state’s health minister says.
NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant told reporters on Wednesday the southwest Sydney man worked only with air crew members and was not involved in regular taxi services for the public. He wore a mask while working.
But Health Minister Brad Hazzard said a stronger regime for international air crew members may be required to eliminate future risk – likely by placing air crew in full hotel quarantine until their flight back out of Australia.
While they do not currently have total liberty, air crew have more freedom of movement than returned travellers in hotel quarantine.
Mr Hazzard said NSW may act unilaterally if the national cabinet cannot agree.
“Our inclination is to say to international air crews and airlines … crews coming in to NSW will most likely be required to quarantine in the same way as other international visitors,” the minister told reporters.
At least 2000 international air crew members touch down in Sydney each week, with turnarounds of up to 72 hours before flying out again.
The COVID-positive case’s employer, Sydney Ground Transport in Alexandria, has ceased operations while contact tracing takes place.
The company’s staff will be tested for COVID-19.
Three people with whom the man lives, meanwhile, tested negative to COVID-19 on Wednesday but will self-isolate for 14 days.
People who have attended the following venues are considered close contacts and should get tested and isolate for 14 days even if they receive a negative result.
- Palm Beach female change rooms: Sunday, 13 December 9-9.15 am
- Coast Palm Beach Café, Palm Beach: Sunday, 13 December 10-11am
- Avalon Bowlo (bowling club), Avalon Beach: Sunday, 13 December, 3 -5pm
- Sneaky Grind Café, 3/48 Old Barrenjoey Rd, Avalon Beach: Monday, 14 December, 9.30-11am
- Hungry Ghost Café, 20 Avalon Parade, Avalon: Sunday, 13 December, 9.30am-11am andTuesday, 15 December 9.30-11am
- Barramee Thai Massage and Spa, 4/42-44 Old Barrenjoey Rd, Avalon Beach: Monday, 14 December, 2-3.30pm
- Bangkok Sidewalk Restaurant, 1/21-23 Old Barrenjoey Rd, Avalon Beach: Monday, 14 December 7-8pm
People who have visited the following venues should get tested and isolate until they receive a negative result:
- Woolworths Avalon Beach: Sunday, 13 December, 12-5pm and Tuesday December 15 12-12:30pm
- Bing Lee, Gateway, 1 Mona Vale Rd, Mona Vale: Monday, 14 December, 4.30‑4.45pm
- Oliver’s Pie, Careel Shopping Village, Avalon Beach: Monday, 14 December, 9 9.15am