A Sydney hotel quarantine worker has been diagnosed with Covid-19, raising infection fears after she worked at a second hotel.
The New South Wales health minister, Brad Hazzard, said he had been notified of the new case at 1.22am on Thursday. “She worked at the Novotel and the Ibis at Darling Harbour,” he told Seven’s Sunrise program. “One of those is a police quarantine hotel.”
The woman is understood to have worked shifts as a cleaner at the Novotel, which is being used to quarantine returned international travellers between 28 November and 30 December, and at the neighbouring Ibis, a regular non-quarantine hotel, a day earlier – on 27 November.
NSW Health urged anyone who worked at the hotels on these days to monitor for symptoms, self-isolate and get tested. Guardian Australia has sought clarification as to whether the woman regularly worked at both hotels, thus potentially increasing Ibis guest and staff risks of exposure, or had permanently shifted to the Novotel on 28 November.
“The good news is her five family members were tested overnight and they are all negative, so that is a good outcome,” Hazzard said.
The woman’s family will still be required to isolate, and urgent genome sequencing is being undertaken to confirm whether the woman contracted the virus at the hotel or picked it up in the community.
The hotels are both owned by the Accor Hotel group and sit next to each other at Darling Harbour.
Ensuring hotel quarantine staff do not work across multiple venues has been one of the key takeaways from both Victoria’s second wave of Covid infections and the Adelaide clusters.
The woman lived in Minto in south-west Sydney and health authorities are urging anyone in the area to get tested, even if they have the mildest symptoms.
“She travelled the days that we’re particularly concerned about, which is last Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, she travelled from Minto to Central on our rail system,” Hazzard told the ABC. “And then from Central she travelled on a light rail system down to Darling Harbour.
“To anybody who was using that particular railway line or the light rail, please look out for symptoms, get tested, and listen to the advice from New South Wales Health until the results are through.”
The news comes a day after NSW recorded 25 straight days without a single Covid case in the community and the premier, Gladys Berejiklian, announced a swath of social restrictions would be eased from Monday. As this case was discovered after 8pm, it will be counted in Friday’s numbers, so Thursday will be recorded as the state’s 26th Covid-free day.
The NSW chief health officer, Kerry Chant, said on Wednesday she believed that the state had “probably virtually eliminated” community transmission. Berejiklian said she anticipated there would be more cases. Hazzard said he also expected there would be more cases “because we are in a pandemic”.
He told ABC News Breakfast this case was unlikely to change the easing of restrictions scheduled