One Hundred Sydney Health Workers Isolated

One Hundred Sydney Health Workers Isolated
NSW Chief Health officer Kerry Chant at a press conference in Homebush in Sydney, Australia on Aug. 17, 2020. (Brook Mitchell/Getty Images)

Health authorities are working to stem the impacts of a COVID-19 cluster emerging at two Sydney public hospitals, with more than a hundred workers in isolation waiting on test results.

There are four new COVID-19 cases in NSW—a returned overseas traveller and three healthcare workers at Sydney's Concord Repatriation General Hospital and Liverpool Hospital.

The three healthcare workers were diagnosed during investigations into an emergency department doctor, reported on Sept. 5, who worked at the two hospitals while infectious.

Another case, a visitor to a hospital emergency department where the doctor worked or sought treatment, will be included in Sept. 8's numbers, taking the cluster to five.

Patients considered close contacts and all staff at Concord and Liverpool EDs at the same times as the positive cases are being isolated and tested.

The three newly reported health workers say they had no symptoms while at work, and also wore personal protective equipment while caring for patients.

Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said there was no evidence to suggest NSW hospitals weren't operating safely and effectively, and urged people not to delay urgent care.

Authorities suspect at least one of the new cases caught the virus while both parties were wearing masks.

"For some of the cases there isn't that clear-cut direct contact without a surgical mask,"  Chant told reporters on Sept. 7.

"We are exploring avenues of whether there could be fomite transmission.

"What that means in lay terms is if your hands are contaminated, and then you're touching computer screens or touching pens and pencils pieces of paper, can you actually transmit the virus?"

Meanwhile, Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Sept. 7 confirmed school formals and graduations would be allowed to go ahead in term 4, Despite a number of outbreaks in schools in recent months.

By Tiffanie Turnbull