Authorities Investigate Driver As Sydney Outbreak Grows

By Caden Pearson
Caden Pearson
Caden Pearson
Caden Pearson is a reporter based in Australia, with a background in screenwriting and documentary. Contact him at caden.pearson@epochtimes.com.au
June 16, 2021 Updated: June 16, 2021

Authorities in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) are investigating whether a Sydney man linked to an outbreak breached COVID-19 protocols when transporting an international flight crew as part of his work.

This comes as two more people have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus in Sydney.

A woman in her 70s visited the Belle cafe in Vaucluse, which was listed as an exposure site on Wednesday after the Bondi man, who works as a driver, visited several busy venues in the eastern suburbs of Sydney.

Epoch Times Photo
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian speaks at a press conference before receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine at St George Hospital in Kogarah on March 10, 2021, in Sydney, Australia. (Brook Mitchell/Getty Images)

Another man in his 40s in the Baulkham Hills area in Sydney’s northwest also tested positive. Still, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said his viral load was so low that they can’t yet confirm whether his case was an old infection or a false positive.

“On that basis, it could be a false positive, or it could be an old case,” she told reporters on Thursday.

The premier asked people in Sydney’s eastern suburbs to be extra careful and reconsider any social activities for the next few days.

Police are investigating whether the limousine driver was wearing appropriate PPE as per health orders while working. Health authorities said the saliva test he had on Tuesday was his first time undertaking what is meant to be a daily test.

The alarm about the latest outbreak began on Wednesday night when NSW Health discovered the driver, a man in his 60s, and his wife had tested positive for COVID-19.

The exact source of his infection is unknown. Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said the man’s viral sequencing results matched the highly contagious Delta variant circulating in the United States.

NSW Health’s working hypothesis is that the man may have contracted the virus from an international flight crew from the United States.

Berejiklian said the confirmed local cases—the first since early May—were a reminder of the need to be vigilant.

“We’ve been through this before. We can’t be complacent,” she said. “We know that two can become 20 very quickly.”

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.

The man visited a string of venues while potentially infectious, including Events Cinema at Bondi Junction for a screening of The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard on Sunday.

Other potential exposure sites include Myer and David Jones in Bondi Junction, cafes in Vaucluse and North Ryde, a car wash in Redfern and a fruit and vegetable shop in Zetland.

More than a dozen close contact venues have been identified across Sydney.

The two cases could mean NSW reintroduces some restrictions ahead of the school holidays, which begin on June 26.

AAP contributed to this report.

Caden Pearson
Caden Pearson
Caden Pearson is a reporter based in Australia, with a background in screenwriting and documentary. Contact him at caden.pearson@epochtimes.com.au