Coronavirus NSW: Cluster grows amid concerns over emergency room patient

NSW has announced three new local cases of Covid-19 from yesterday’s reporting period but has had to shut down a Sydney hospital’s emergency department after an additional two cases overnight.

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant told reporters on Monday the three cases from Sunday’s testing are a man and a woman in their 30s along with a child. They are all linked to the cluster in Berala in Sydney’s west.

Eight more were reported in returned travellers.

Another case was also recorded after the reporting period at 8pm on Sunday. A man in his 40s was diagnosed in the Mount Druitt Emergency Department overnight. A household contact of his, also in their 40s, also tested positive.

The two will be added to Tuesday’s tally for NSW.

A health worker carries folder at a Covid-19 testing at the Merrylands drive-through clinic in Sydney.
A health worker carries folder at a Covid-19 testing at the Merrylands drive-through clinic in Sydney.

Dr Chant said the 40-year-old man did spend some time in the emergency department whilst awaiting the test, and the department was shut for cleaning.

“As a precaution, we are ensuring that all staff or patients who may have had inadvertent contact are assessed and appropriate public health measures put in place,” she said.

“The emergency department has been extensively and thoroughly cleaned and is now coming back online. So just want to thank the cooperation of the residents of that area and local GPs for that impact on the service.”

The man was transported to Westmead Hospital and placed into isolation. Dr Chant added she believes he is in a stable condition.

A worker wearing a mask wipes down a public bench at a train station in Sydney.
A man wipes down a public bench at a train station in Sydney. Source: AAP

NSW Health are now undertaking a risk assessment to determine if the man has transmitted the virus in the Mount Druitt Emergency Department and what further precautions could have been undertaken.

“As you know, we take a very precautionary role given the importance of healthcare workers being Covid-free and also the fact that emergency departments have a lot of vulnerable people attend with underlying health conditions,” Dr Chant said.

“So you would expect us to take a very cautious approach. Obviously it is concerning when any patients or staff are exposed to Covid but we're working through those assessments, but a number of patients and staff, as a precaution, have been captured.

“We will work through a risk assessment to understand what their movements were and whether there could have been any inadvertent exposure that would lead them to need to isolate and get tested.”

NSW enters ‘critical period’

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters on Sunday despite low daily case rates the state is trying to tie up any loose ends in regards to transmission.

On Sunday, NSW reported three more cases with two attached to Berala and another to Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

“I also want to stress that again we remain on high alert, but New South Wales is doing well,” she said.

“But we are in a stage where we're mopping up. There are still remnants of the disease in the community. Obviously most people now that we're reporting on are already in isolation, but we can't be complacent.”

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