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New NSW COVID case linked to airline crews

A driver who transported an airline crew to a quarantine hotel has caught the coronavirus - ending NSW's 14-day streak of no local community transmission of the virus.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard confirmed that the case was recorded just after 7am this morning.

"We do have another unfortunate situation of a positive case here in NSW that came in after the 8pm deadline. A 45-year-old gentleman who had symptoms on Saturday was tested yesterday and just after 7am this morning, a positive result was given," he said.

"This man drives van carrying international and other aircrew back and forth from the airport."

Mr Hazzard said health authorities were investigating to confirm the case was genuine and not a false positive result.

 

Police officers escort people off a bus into hotel quarantine in Sydney. The latest case involves a driver who ferries airline crews to and from the airport. Picture by Damian Shaw
Police officers escort people off a bus into hotel quarantine in Sydney. The latest case involves a driver who ferries airline crews to and from the airport. Picture by Damian Shaw

 

Mr Hazzard said the NSW government was considering requiring airline crews to quarantine in a similar way to returned travellers but for a shorter period that 14 days.

NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said the man worked for Sydney Ground Transport in Alexandria and did not carry the general public in his van.

"He reports wearing masks and taking precautions. His sole responsibility was carrying the aircrew," she said.

"He has three household contacts and they have been tested and we are expecting results in the next few hours."

Mr Hazzard said the NSW government was considering stricter quarantine protocols for airline crews. Picture: NCA NewsWire //Bianca De Marchi
Mr Hazzard said the NSW government was considering stricter quarantine protocols for airline crews. Picture: NCA NewsWire //Bianca De Marchi

The man is understood to have had symptoms on Saturday but worked some shifts in the days that followed before getting tested on Tuesday.

"We will be identifying one community sporting site he went to."

Dr Chant said NSW Health had been conducting audits of the hotel facility the aircrew were staying at.

She accepted that the government and health authorities needed to do more work in perfecting the safety measures surrounding flight crews.

"We recognise the threat is going overseas with the growing numbers and it is important we recognise the risk returning travellers and our aircrews and ports present," she said.

 

 

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said NSW Health was looking to expand the use of salivary testing and make it more accurate to make it easier to do regular tests without painful swabs.

"At the moment in our airports and police quarantine hotels we are testing security guards every day and we have expanded that to cleaners," she said.

Mr Hazzard added that it was important to balance the return of Australians to the country while keeping the virus from entering with them.

"We need the airlines to come to Australia, they are bringing our Aussies back and they are also bringing our freight," he said.

"Some of the crews are in quarantine hotels but the same level of application to keeping them away from others is not the same as those who are there to quarantine as returned travellers."

 

 

Originally published as New NSW COVID case linked to airline crews



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