NSW Health investigators have explained how they believe the growing coronavirus cluster at a Sydney pub was sparked by a visitor from Melbourne.
A man who worked for a freight company, but is not a truck driver, travelled to Sydney from Melbourne on June 30. He attended the Crossroads Hotel in Casula with work colleagues on July 3.
Six people from the workplace are among the 34 infected with coronavirus that are linked to the Crossroads Hotel cluster. Fourteen people in the cluster had attended the pub.
NSW Health contact tracing manager Jennie Musto said the man was not feeling unwell and was not aware he had the virus when entering the Sydney work place.
“They all went to a party that night, the 3rd of July, at the Crossroads Hotel. This is where it all began,” she said.
Health officials established two infected patients, one at Liverpool hospital and one from the Blue Mountains, had been at the Crossroads Hotel on July 3. More contract tracing found other cases, establishing the cluster which has now grown to 34.
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro on Wednesday confirmed genomic testing of the virus circulating in Casula found links to a strain from Victoria, where hundreds of new COVID-19 cases are being reported each day.
“In one way that is actually good news because it means we know exactly where that virus has come from, that it’s not a virus that has been transmitted in this state," Mr Barilaro told the Seven Network.
"There is no question the virus has come from Victoria. We don't know where that's seeded, we have been doing the contact tracing.
“The questions now have to be pointed to Victoria and its failings because what has happened in Victoria is now impacting on other states.”
NSW government reluctant to roll out new lockdown
Both Mr Barilaro and Premier Gladys Berejiklian have this week said localised or statewide lockdowns were undesirable and options of last resort.
The intensive care capacity in NSW hospitals had almost quadrupled since the early stages of the pandemic, which has killed 51 people in the state.
"What we need to do is find a way in which we can coexist with the virus," Ms Berejiklian told ABC TV on Tuesday evening.
"Every time we have an outbreak we can't afford to lockdown, reopen, lockdown, reopen.
"That is no way to live and that is no way to be able to install confidence in businesses to keep employing people. We have to learn to manage these outbreaks."
Casula coronavirus cluster continues to grow
Mancini's Original Woodfired Pizza at Belfield said NSW Health had deemed the case a low risk to staff as the male customer was there for about an hour last Friday and stayed within his group.
NSW Health reported 13 new COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Monday, with 10 linked to the Crossroads Hotel.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant on Tuesday said seven additional cases had since 3pm on Monday been confirmed - all linked to the Casula pub.
In a statement later on Tuesday NSW Health said two further cases had been confirmed, both at the Planet Fitness gym in Casula.
The department is urging anyone who visited the gym between July 4 and 10 to self-isolate and come forward for testing.
Both cases, men aged in their 20s, came forward for testing after it was established a case from the Crossroads Hotel visited the gym.
Police are working with Liquor and Gaming to investigate if the hotel breached any guidelines. All patrons of the Crossroads Hotel from July 3 to 10 must self-isolate and are being urged to get tested.
One of the cases linked to the hotel is a person who visited the Prestons Lodge Advantaged Care nursing home which has been placed into lockdown.
Another case worked at the Kmart store in Casula Mall on July 10.
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.
Ms Berejiklian also on Tuesday announced a tightening of restrictions for pubs and hotels, including a cap of 300 patrons and mandatory sign-ins. Those restrictions will come into effect from Friday.
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