In December, the BWS bottle shop and the Woolworths supermarket in Berala, in Sydney’s west, was named as a coronavirus exposure site for 10 days over the Christmas period.
The Berala cluster, which has 35 cases now linked to it, sparked fears it could lead to a major coronavirus outbreak with positive cases linked to the BWS bottle shop between December 20 and New Year’s Eve.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said earlier this month more than 2000 people had been contacted and told to get tested and isolate.
Woolworths however played an integral part in that contact tracing, with close contacts identifiable through the usage of their Everyday Rewards cards.
The supermarket was able to use data from its loyalty program to track customers who had visited the Berala BWS and the store at specific dates and times.
Woolworths then alerted its customers via email and forwarded on contact details to NSW Health at the request of health authorities.
“At the request of NSW Health, customers who scanned their Everyday Rewards card or signed in via a QR code at these stores on relevant dates had their contact details passed on securely to NSW Health for contact tracing purposes,” a Woolworths spokesman told Yahoo News Australia in a statement.
“This allowed NSW Health to send urgent and direct public health advice to customers.”
The spokesperson added the safety of team members and customers was Woolworths’ top priority and it worked with NSW Health to help with contact-tracing efforts linked to the Berala BWS and Woolworths.
Woolworths assured people information would only be shared with authorities as permitted by law and customers were informed by Woolworths that their details had been securely shared with NSW Health for public health reasons.
NSW reported six new local cases on Sunday, five of which were genomically linked to the Berala cluster.
Dr Chant revealed the cluster linked to the BWS had been traced back to a patient transport worker, not the Avalon cluster on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, as was previously thought.
“We have been dealing with two different strains that have been causing clusters. We had a family group who had returned from overseas and were transported to a health facility,” she said earlier this month.
“Unfortunately one of the patient transport workers acquired infection, passed it on to a colleague, that colleague had been at the Berala BWS for a very fleeting amount of time, but what we now know is that transmission occurred.”
NSW reported zero new local cases on Thursday, with five recorded in returned travellers.
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