'Still concerned’: Missing link continues to evade tracers

·News Reporter
·3-min read

NSW's Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant says health authorities are "still concerned" at not being able to identify a missing link that led to a suspected Covid-19 leak from hotel quarantine.

Contact tracers continue to frantically search for a missing link between an infected returned traveller from the US and a man and his wife in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs who tested positive to the virus last week.

"We're still concerned that there may be chains of transmission in the community that are yet unrecognised," she said.

The cases have been genomically linked and are the highly-infectious B.1.617 strain from India, often dubbed as the "double mutant" strain. 

Premier Gladys Berejiklian speaking to reporters.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian addressed reporters on Monday morning. Source: ABC

All close contacts of the couple have returned negative results, with Dr Chant believing contact with the mystery infection would have been "very fleeting".

NSW Health confirmed there were no new locally-acquired cases in the previous 24 hours, with Dr Chant earlier saying there was "nothing of particular concern" in the figures which included six cases in hotel quarantine.

There were 13,768 tests reported to 8pm last night, compared with the previous day’s total of 18,024.

Chief Health Officer's plea to the community

She pleaded with anyone with the slightest of symptoms to come forward and get tested.

"My plea to the community is to come forward and get tested if you have the most minimal of symptoms," she said.

The update came at the opening of Sydney's new vaccination hub in Homebush which Premier Gladys Berejiklian hopes will kickstart a troubled rollout. 

"When it's fully up and running, we'll do 30,000 doses every week," she told reporters.

She revealed people aged between 40 and 49 would be able to register for the Pfizer vaccine at the centre.

NSW government angered over publication of case's identity

Ms Berejiklian has repeatedly praised the infected man's cooperation, stressing he did everything correctly. There are more than 20 exposure sites where the man and his wife visited while infectious.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard hit out at the Australian Financial Review for identifying the man.

"I think it's absolutely appalling. No journalist should think it's OK to go naming a patient... it stinks, actually," he said.

The NSW government extended Greater Sydney's restrictions by another week after failing to identify the missing link.

It means for the next week household gatherings remain capped at 20 people, mask usage remains mandatory on public transport and indoor venues such as theatres and aged care homes, and singing and dancing remains mostly banned.

Hospitality patrons are still not permitted to drink while standing, although retail customers are no longer obliged to wear masks.

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.