Concerns Grow in NSW Over Delta Variant Outbreak

June 17, 2021 Updated: June 17, 2021

The issue of mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for frontline health and allied workers have been thrown in the spotlight by the latest virus outbreak in Sydney.

The cluster of three was sparked on Wednesday night when an unvaccinated limousine driver from Sydney’s east and his wife were diagnosed and a woman in her 70s was subsequently infected at a Vaucluse cafe frequented by the couple.

The man from Bondi transports international flight crews and police are investigating if he breached any health orders, which require those working around the hotel quarantine system to be tested for the virus daily and wear personal protective equipment.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said there was an expectation but not an obligation for people working on the COVID-19 frontline to be vaccinated.

“There has been a reluctance through the national cabinet to have mandatory testing,” he told ABC television on Thursday.

“But it’s certainly something which … we’re now looking very closely at.

“So, I’ve asked our lawyers to give us advice on that. And we’ll be making some decisions shortly,” he said.

Meanwhile, NSW Health is investigating after a man in his 40s from Sydney’s northwest also tested positive for COVID-19.

It’s possible the case is a false positive because his test results showed low virus levels, he’s not yet linked to any known cases and his three household contacts have all returned negative results.

The man travelled to Canberra on Monday and ACT Health subsequently identified the National Gallery of Australia and a cafe as exposure sites.

The outbreak could mean NSW reintroduces some restrictions ahead of the school holiday period, which begins on June 26.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed on Friday that quarantine-free travel will continue with NSW for now.

However, WA and SA have shut the border for those who attended the NSW virus exposure sites.

Victoria also took a similar step, with residents from the City of Sydney, Waverley and Woollahra council areas told to obtain a travel permit, get tested and isolate until they receive a negative result.

Sydney’s potential exposure venues include a cinema and shopping centre in Bondi Junction, stores in Castle Hill, cafes in Vaucluse and North Ryde, a car wash in Redfern and stores in Zetland, including at the East Village Shopping Centre.

It also includes the Harris Farm in Leichhardt and Northmead Bowling Club on Sunday afternoon and evening.

People at those venues at that time should get tested, self-isolate and wait for further advice.