COVID-19, breaking the state’s two-week run of no new locally acquired cases, went to a junior sporting event while infectious.A Sydney driver who tested positive to
The 45-year-old man, who drives international and other aircrew to and from Sydney Airport, tested positive to the virus this morning.
Health authorities were informed of the positive diagnosis at 7am today, meaning the case will be included in tomorrow’s figures.
NSW Health said this afternoon three household contacts of the man have been tested and returned negative results. They will still self-isolate for 14 days and further contact tracing is underway.
NSW Health is conducting wider testing of staff at the transport company, which focuses solely on transporting aircrew.
The man, who lives in Sydney’s south-west, went to a children’s football match on December 11 while infectious.
He was at the Forest Rangers FC Little Rangers session at Gannons Park on Pindari Road and Isaac Street in Peakhurst from 4.30pm to 5.30pm.
Earlier, NSW Health said the man works for Sydney Ground Transport in Alexandria and was responsible for helping airline crew with their baggage, including exiting minivans and buses.
He wore a mask the entire time.
The last case of community transmission in NSW was recorded on December 2, when a hotel quarantine worker at two Sydney hotels tested positive to the virus.
Health officials told reporters today the man likely contracted COVID-19 from international airline crew.
“While we have a plausible hypothesis that this transmission may have originated from contact with international flight crew, it is important to remain open in these investigations,” NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said.
The man has three household contacts who have all been tested, with results expected in the coming hours.
The case worked several shifts while potentially infectious and visited a “sporting site” over the weekend.
Dr Chant said the transport company was working with health authorities to provide records of where the man travelled.
“We do not want COVID as a Christmas gift to our community,” NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said.
Mr Hazzard said the NSW Government will review the way the state handles international arrivals following the new case of COVID-19.
He said the government will contact overseas airlines to discuss the possibility of airline crew undergoing a mandatory quarantine period.
“The inclination that the NSW government has at the present time, is to say to international aircrews and airlines, that international aircrews coming into NSW will most likely be required to quarantine in the same way as any other international visitors, returnees, Australians returning to Australia,” he said.
“We may be an island but we are not totally isolated from the pandemic that is raging across the world.
“We need to be cognisant of the need to work with the airlines to try to ensure that the aircrew are able to come into the country, NSW and Australia, but also to make sure that they do it in a safe way, a way that keeps our NSW community safe and preferably away from the possibility of this virus.”
Saliva testing could be used as an alternative to nasal swabs to provide more frequent testing of international arrivals and quarantine staff.
A pilot of this saliva testing is being conducted for returning crew at Sydney airport.
“We have developed our saliva retest which gives us greater operational flexibility for surveillance purposes at this time,” Dr Chant said.
“We are not using them for diagnostic testing because its performance is slightly less, but as our techniques become more valid we may see the emergence of saliva testing more uniformly.”
Mr Hazzard urged the community to “keep perspective” about the new case, comparing Australia’s situation to the United States and elsewhere around the world.
“Three thousand people died almost every day in the US in the last week or two, and many more before that,” he said.
“We have one positive case at the moment in NSW and therefore, Australia.
“You can’t expect in a COVID world pandemic that we won’t from time to time have a case. It will happen. We’ve been saying that for months.”
Mr Hazzard said the state would not necessarily be implementing “tougher” restrictions on international airlines but would ensure their protocols are effective in detecting possible virus cases.
“We need the airlines to come to Australia. They’re bringing our Aussies back. They’re also bringing in our freight,” he said.
“What we need to do, though, is recognise that there’s a high variability in the approaches the airlines take themselves in testing and looking after their crews.”
Over 9000 people were tested in the last 24 hours which is almost double the number of people tested in the previous reporting period.