A positive case of coronavirus in an employee at a Kmart store in Sydney has been linked to the coronavirus outbreak at a busy pub in the city’s southwest.
The retailer in Casula, inside the Casula Mall shopping centre, was closed on Monday after the case was confirmed, with authorities expressing growing concern over cases linked to the Crossroads Hotel, located in the same suburb.
There have been 28 confirmed cases of COVID-19 linked to the pub, with authorities still working to identify the source of the outbreak, which they believe began between July 3 and 10.
One of the most recent cases linked to the pub was an 18-year-old employee, who according to news.com.au, had close contact with the Kmart worker.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said on Tuesday the employee worked on July 10 at Kmart Casula from 5pm to midnight.
“People who were at that store at that time are urged to watch for symptoms, self-isolate and get tested,” Dr Chant told reporters.
A sign attached to the entrance of the Kmart store on Monday informed shoppers the premises was “closed for cleaning following a confirmed case of COVID-19 of one of our workers”.
“Our priority is to ensure the safety of our customers and team members. We apologise for any inconvenience. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding during this challenging time.”
All patrons of the pub who entered from July 3 to 10 must self-isolate and are being urged to get tested as a precaution.
One of the eight cases initially reported on Monday that was linked to the venue tested positive after also visiting The Star in Sydney on July 4.
Dr Chant said other venues across Sydney may have been exposed to the virus between June 27 and July 10 after visits from people linked to the outbreak.
These include Picton Hotel, Planet Fitness gym in Casula, Canterbury Leagues Club, Narellan Town Centre and Zone Bowling in Villawood.
People who visited between these dates have been urged to watch for symptoms and get tested.
The Narellan Town Centre, also in Sydney’s southwest, has been notified that a positive case of COVID-19 was in the centre on July 6.
Businesses inside the centre were allowed to stay open, but were urged to conduct a full deep clean and enforce the immediate isolation of any employees displaying flu-like symptoms.
Stricter rules for pub gatherings
The NSW government will now enforce stricter operating rules for pubs, including a limit of 300 people regardless of size and group bookings capped at 10 people.
Every person who enters a pub will also be required to record their name and contact details, and there is set to be stricter guidelines for cleaning to be announced on Tuesday afternoon.
The changes – decided during a meeting of senior government ministers on Monday night – will not apply to clubs, restaurants or The Star Casino.
Officials are waiting on test results for 18 people in Queensland who went to the Crossroads Hotel in southwest Sydney in the period identified as a concern.
Queensland officials announced on Tuesday anyone who has visited Campbelltown and Liverpool in the past 14 days and tries to enter Queensland, will be turned away at the border.
Queenslanders who have been to those areas in the last 14 days must go into hotel quarantine.
Search for ‘patient zero’ underway
Dr Chant on Tuesday said authorities were working hard to determine “patient zero” in the outbreak linked to the Crossroads Hotel, which is on a popular route used by truckies travelling from Victoria.
The possibility of a truck driver who stopped at the pub after travelling into NSW from Melbourne while infectious is under investigation, Dr Chant said.
“This is called the Crossroads Hotel for a reason, it is on a popular route,” she said.
“Clearly we are pursuing — it's a pivotal part of the investigation — as to whether these cases can be linked to any travellers from Melbourne, because that gives us comfort we are not missing another avenue of transmission.”
Test results to be revealed later this week could provide crucial details in solving the mystery, Dr Chant said.
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