Health minister furious after infected Sydney driver 'skipped Covid test'

·5-min read

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has pleaded with people not to be complacent after it emerged Sydney's latest Covid outbreak stemmed from an airport limousine driver appearing to not undertake mandatory testing.

Two new Covid cases in Sydney were reported by health authorities on Thursday.

One is a woman, 70, who visited the Belle Cafe in Vaucluse, which was deemed a "venue of concern" after a couple from Sydney's eastern suburbs tested positive on Wednesday. Anyone who was there at the same time as the pervious cases is considered a close contact.

The second is a man in his 40s who is unrelated to the eastern suburbs cluster. He is from Baulkham Hills.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said health officials are checking to see if his result is a false negative because his viral load was low. 

One new overseas-acquired case was also recorded.

A general view of Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel in Sydney. Source: AAP
Sydney is on Covid alert after more cases were announced on Thursday. Source: AAP

On Wednesday, a man in his 60s and his wife from Sydney's eastern suburbs were confirmed to have the virus. 

The man is a limousine driver who drove international flight crews, believed to be from a FedEx plane, to their Sydney quarantine hotels before returning a positive test, sparking a scramble to prevent any community spread. The second case is his wife. 

The exact source of his infection is unknown, but NSW’s Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said pathology has confirmed he has the Delta strain of the virus.

“It does match perfectly a sequence that's been uploaded from the US,” she said.

Man may have breached Covid testing order

Police are investigating if the aircrew worker in his 60s followed the appropriate procedures for front-line workers, which requires people to have a saliva test conducted every day.

The first time the man completed salivary testing was on June 15, Dr Chant said. 

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said "there is no room for complacency".

"Being slack about what the health authorities ask you to do is just inexcusable. We have to make sure that we all follow the rules. 

"Now, the police are obviously investigating the particular circumstances surrounding the limousine-driver... I will remind all drivers who pick people up from the airport more broadly is that you have obligations, and your obligations are legal and they are to get saliva-tested every day and to make sure you wear appropriate PPE."

NSW Health has released a list of venues visited by the man including a cinema, cafes and department stores at Bondi Junction plus venues in Vaucluse and North Ryde.

Extra pop-up testing clinics have been set up in eastern Sydney and the premier is urging people in areas the two cases visited to get tested.

fFile photo of Westfield shopping centre in Bondi Junction, Sydney. Source: AAP
NSW Health has released a list of venues visited by the man including a cinema, cafes and department stores at Bondi Junction. Source: AAP

AstraZeneca not recommended for under-60s

The AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine is reportedly no longer recommended for people aged under 60 after new expert immunisation panel advice.

Health Minister Greg Hunt made the announcement on Thursday after receiving new recommendations from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation about extremely rare but serious blood clots.

Two people have died in Australia after developing the clotting condition with both in their 50s.

As of last week, more than 3.6 million doses of AstraZeneca have been administered nationwide since the rollout kicked off in February.

For people who have had a single dose of AstraZeneca, health authorities have given the green light for the second jab.

The latest advice could spark further headaches for the federal government's troubled vaccine rollout which will now have to rely more heavily on Pfizer jabs.

Cars line up for Covid-19 testing at Bondi in Sydney. Source: AAP
Cars line up for Covid-19 testing at Bondi in Sydney. Source: AAP

Sydney Covid exposure sites revealed

Anyone who attended the following venues are considered close contacts and must get tested immediately and self-isolate for 14 days or until further advice is received from NSW Health:

  • Bondi Junction's Event Cinemas, Sunday, June 13, 1:30pm and 4:00pm for a screening of the Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard which started at 1.45pm

  • Bus 200, from Bondi Junction interchange to Blue St, North Sydney (near North Sydney station), Tuesday, June 15, departed approximately 4:25pm, arrived approximately 5:00pm

  • Vaucluse, Belle Cafe, Friday, June 11, 9:15am-9:50am, Saturday, June 12, 11:20pm-1:50pm, Sunday, June 13, 11:30am-12:00pm, Tuesday, June 15, 9:50am-10:25am

  • Vaucluse, Field to Fork, Friday, June 11, 12:00-4:00pm

  • Bondi Junction, Sourdough Cafe, Friday, June 11, 12:40pm-1:10pm

  • Vaucluse, Belle Cafe, Saturday, June 12, 10:20am-10:45am

  • Bondi Junction, David Jones, Saturday, June 12, 11:00am-11:40am

  • Bondi Junction, Myer, Saturday, June 12, 11:10-12:15pm

  • Vaucluse, Washoku Vaucluse, Saturday, June 12, 12:00pm-1:30pm

  • Vaucluse, Rocco's, Monday, June 14, 10:55am-11:30am

  • North Ryde, Celeste Catering Macquarie Park Cemetery Cafe, Tuesday, June 15, 1:00pm-1:20pm

  • Bondi Junction, Harry's Coffee and Kitchen, Tuesday, June 15, 3:00-3:40pm

  • Bondi Junction, NAB, Tuesday, June 15, 2:45-3:10pm

  • Bondi Junction, David Jones, Tuesday, June 15, 3:30-4:15pm

  • Zetland, Coles, East Village Shopping Centre, O'Dea Ave, Monday, June 14, 11:00am-1:00pm

  • Zetland, Taste Growers (fruit and vegetable shop), East Village Shopping Centre, Shop 39/2 Defries Ave, Monday, June 14, 11:00am-1:00pm

  • Redfern, Wax Car Wash Café, 375 Cleveland Street, Monday, June 14, 12:00pm-3:00pn

The following site is considered a casual contact, which requires visitors to get tested and isolate until a negative result is received:

  • Fruitologist, Bondi, Tuesday, June 15, between 1:00-2:00pm

With AAP

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