Queensland has recorded two new cases of COVID-19 after the state’s Chief Health Officer expressed concern over the earlier arrival of two cases from NSW.
Queensland has recorded two new cases of COVID-19 after the state’s Chief Health Officer expressed concern over the earlier arrival of two cases from NSW.

Child contracts virus as Boxing Day sales warning issued

A child has tested positive for COVID-19 as an inner-Sydney cluster grows outside the northern beaches boundaries.

NSW Health has confirmed the young patient is the fourth in the Paddington Alimentari cluster.

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said the child's case will be counted in tomorrow's numbers.

NSW recorded seven locally acquired COVID-19 cases reported from more than 69,800 tests in NSW on Thursday, beating the Wednesday record of 60,184 tests carried out.

Six cases were linked to the Avalon cluster and already in isolation, while the seventh case was a worker in the northern beaches also linked to the outbreak.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian urged Sydneysiders to "think twice" about heading to the CBD tomorrow ahead of the Boxing Day sales.

"It's proving to be constrained, but we can't be too careful under these circumstances. We want to discourage people from going to the CBD tomorrow. Please limit your activity," Ms Berejiklian said.

"If you are going shopping in the CBD, please make sure you wear a mask. We've already been in contact with retailers to make sure that there's social distancing."

Ms Berejiklian warned that wearing a mask "doesn't protect you from getting the virus" or transmitting it and encouraged people to continue practicing health hygiene including using hand sanitisers.

Dr Chant urged people who were at the Paragon Hotel to monitor their symptoms.

"Anyone at this venue while visiting the hotel at 12.45 to 3:30pm on Wednesday 16 December for more than one hour I considered closed contacts," Dr Chant said.

"Get tested, immediately and self isolate for 14 days regardless of the result. Anyone who was there for less than an hour needs to get tested immediately and self isolate pending a result."

Anyone who attended the hotel outside of those times, are being told to monitor the symptoms and isolate and get tested immediately.

Dr Chant said authorities were still investigating how a man from Belrose on the northern beaches acquired COVID-19.

She said the man had experienced symptoms on December 10, but hasn't been linked to the Avalon cluster, nor has he transmitted the virus to anyone.

"We are asking residents of Belrose and Davidson and surrounding suburbs to be alert for systems and even if you have symptoms," Dr Chant said.

"We ask you to present the testing and this will help us in our investigations to better understand how this transmission event to this gentleman occurred.

"And potentially link it to help assist us with the investigation to see how this cluster was investigated.

Dr Chant said Boxing Day shopping sales "can often be busy places" and asked people to avoid the CBD.

"You have a number of alternatives: shop online, shop locally, and defer and delay and avoid crowded environments. And please, if you're going into those shopping sales, please wear a mask," Dr Chant said.

QUEENSLAND RECORDS TWO NEW CASES

Queensland has recorded two new cases of COVID-19 on Christmas Day, both of which were detected while in hotel quarantine.

Fortunately, no cases of community transmission connected to the Northern Sydney's Avalon cluster have been detected in the state, following confirmation that two people had brought the virus into the state on Christmas Eve.

A man in his 40s who had travelled to the northern beaches before returning was among two new cases linked to the Sydney outbreak.

 

The other was a woman in her 20s who arrived in Cairns on a superyacht that sailed from the Maldives. She is in isolation. The six crew members have remained on the yacht and are being tested.

"I am concerned we do have the virus now in Queensland," Queensland's Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young said on Thursday.

"I have seen the positive sewage results and we have seen people return from the Northern Beaches and Sydney."

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced nine new cases of community transmission in NSW on Thursday, with two still under investigation, bringing the total number of cases to 104. Seven of the nine new cases were linked to the Northern Beaches cluster.

Six cases are still under investigation in NSW, including two people who are employed as patient-transport workers.

Dr Kerry Chant said all people on-board a Qantas flight from Darwin to Sydney on December 17 have been considered close contacts to a passenger with COVID-19 and have been asked to self-isolate.

 

A Qantas crew member contracted COVID-19 who was on-board the flight subsequently tested positive. She said they are investigating another potential case but the current data is preliminary. Everyone who was on-board will be tested.

She said the passenger on the Darwin-Sydney Qantas flight is a South Australia resident who initially tested negative in NSW.

"We're just trying to work at the nature of that test result whether it is a false positive or it is an old infection, it is very scant information," she said.

Victorians have also been advised to not "hug and kiss" anyone from NSW.

Victoria's COVID testing program commander Jeroen Weimar asked people to show some discretion in their Christmas cuddling.

"If you've been to NSW in the last 10 days or you're spending time with people you know have come back from NSW, I would encourage you - let's not hug and kiss right this moment in time," he said.

   

NSW is expected to announce a single-digit rise in COVID-19 cases today and a new record number of tests carried out on Thursday.

The state recorded nine new locally acquired coronavirus cases yesterday.

But test numbers for Thursday are expected to surpass Wednesday's record 60,184 tests carried out across NSW.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian will outline the new figures at 11am (AEDT).

RULES FOR CHRISTMAS DAY

It will be a much sombre Christmas for some Sydneysiders today despite many being granted a three-day window of eased restrictions on gatherings.

The northern beaches remain split into separate high and low risk zones in response to the Avalon COVID cluster until Boxing Day.

All Sydneysiders are being warned to limit their mobility over the Christmas break, but particularly on the city's northern beaches.

Since yesterday, those living north of the Narrabeen Bridge and east of the Baha'i temple on Mona Vale Road can either visit the home of others who live in the same zone or can host five other people, including children, from the same zone.

The southern part of the northern beaches will join Sydney in being allowed 10 guests into their homes. In a slight easing of existing restrictions, children under 12 will not count towards the 10 for those three days.

The northern part will be able to have five people visit their home during the Christmas period, but they must all reside within that part of the Northern Beaches Local Government Area.

All northern beaches residents will not be allowed to leave the area. The stay-at-home public health order was amended to allow for home visits within each person's part of the northern beaches over Christmas, but otherwise remains in place.

After Boxing Day the maximum number of visitors will return to 10 with no exceptions for children.

Despite the tight limits on household gatherings for Greater Sydney, 100 people will still be allowed at public outdoor gatherings, which means big Christmas lunches and barbies at the beach or the park is still allowed today.

There are close to 300 testing facilities open over Christmas, with people urged not to delay being tested if they begin to notice even mild symptoms.

TRANSPORTING RETURNED TRAVELLERS 'NOT A ONE-OFF'

Protocols designed to separate healthcare workers transporting suspected COVID cases from vulnerable patients in the community broke down "for a period of time" before being reinstated, NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant says.

However one patient transport officer has claimed it has been "very regular practice" since the start of the pandemic for crew to work with both potentially sick returned travellers and general patients in the community.

Dr Chant's admission about the protocol breakdown came only after The Daily Telegraph revealed a patient transport worker was used to transport an aged care resident after working with sick returned travellers.

The lapse in infection control in the state's international border operation raised serious questions about safety measures for staff working with sick returned travellers.

Dr Chant has apologised for the issue, saying NSW Health will "make sure that there is no … overlap of crew".

"That process was in place and we're now reinstating that," she said.

Despite insisting measures were in place to separate crew working with returned travellers, one patient transport officer has told The Daily Telegraph that it has been a "very regular practice" since the beginning of the pandemic for crews to work with suspected COVID cases and general patients.

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