NSW has ended its 25-day streak of no new locally acquired COVID-19 cases after a hotel quarantine worker tested positive for the virus.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard confirmed on Thursday morning a female worker at the Novotel and Ibis hotels in Darling Harbour had tested positive.
Mr Hazzard told 2GB the woman commuted by train to Sydney from Minto. She also took the light rail to Darling Harbour from Central to get to work.
She worked at the Ibis last Friday before working at the Novotel on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Other staff at the facilities who worked on those days have been ordered to isolate and will undergo testing.
Mr Hazzard said it’s understood the woman is a cleaner.
The extent of her movements are so far unclear with contact tracers racing to contain the spread.
Anyone who used the same transport routes or lives in Minto with symptoms is urged to come forward for testing. The suburb is 50km southwest of Sydney’s CBD.
Mr Hazzard said her five close contact family members had so far tested negative.
He said he didn’t believe the woman’s infection would affect the latest easing of restrictions for hospitality venues, funerals and weddings.
"We're in the middle of a pandemic, one has to expect it," he told ABC News Breakfast.
NSW Health said the source of the infection is under investigation and it is not yet confirmed to be acquired from either of the hotels.
However the latest case to come from hotel quarantine in Australia will undoubtedly reignite debate on whether high-density areas are suitable for housing returned travellers.
Last month, Curtin University epidemiologist Professor Archie Clements predicted the virus would routinely escape quarantine until a vaccine arrives and urged governments to explore “innovative” solutions for housing returned travellers and those who need to quarantine.
“There needs to be innovative solutions that recognise our natural advantage of isolation and their ability to put people in locations where they don’t come into contact with the rest of the community,” he told Yahoo News Australia.
The diagnosis will also put Western Australia’s decision to finally reopen its border to NSW in jeopardy.
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