The New South Wales premier is confident in the processes in place at the state’s quarantine hotels after two security guards tested positive to COVID-19.
Of the four new COVID-19 cases confirmed on Aug. 23, one is a hotel security guard who was previously reported as a case on Aug. 22.
He worked at the Marriott Hotel in Sydney and tested positive after a week-long testing blitz on contacts after another security guard tested positive on Aug. 14.
NSW Health on Aug. 23 said contact tracing is underway as they investigate the source of his infection and potential links to the other infected security guard.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said a recent audit of the state’s hotel quarantine system gave her confidence the processes in place are good.
But, she noted mistakes will be made.
“You might have good processes but that doesn’t mean people remember to do the right thing all of the time,” she told reporters on Aug. 23.
“When the first guard tested positive of course it was a concern but it’s also surprising it had not occurred until now given we’ve had 48,000 people come through that system.”
Berejiklian also flagged she won’t be increasing the cap on international arrivals into NSW at this stage.
“We are still having the burden for the nation in terms of people we are welcoming and I don’t want to see those numbers go up at this stage,” she said.
The newly-diagnosed security guard is the sole person among the first ill guard’s 700 contacts to return a COVID-positive test.
NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant said the two guards worked the same shift on Aug. 3, while the newly-diagnosed guard also worked at Sheraton Grand Hyatt Park hotel on the night of Aug. 16.
He was asymptomatic at the time of his shifts.
The guard who originally tested positive also worked across a number of venues after he was exposed.
The premier noted the state continues to be on a knife-edge in terms of community transmission and that she is most concerned about cases with no known source.
She also reiterated to HSC students that Year 12 formals and graduation ceremonies could go ahead in term four after the exams.
It follows an announcement earlier in the week to ban the events with Berejiklian on Aug. 23 saying the health advice is only in place until the end of HSC exams.
“We don’t want to risk the HSC getting disrupted,” she said.
“We’re hoping in term four all of those activities can be conducted in a COVID safe way.”
NSW Labor health spokesman Ryan Park says the coalition government needs to learn from Victoria’s mistakes in relation to quarantine hotels.
The opposition wants hotel guards to be given full-time positions within the quarantine system, to help contain the virus should more guards be exposed.
“Securing our quarantine hotels shouldn’t be a part-time job,” he said in a statement.
Labor is also pushing for guards to be subject to testing, like the police.
The other cases reported on Aug. 23 included two travellers in hotel quarantine and one linked to the Apollo Restaurant cluster in Potts Point.
By Dominica Sanda