There are fears a truck driver could be “patient zero” in the COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney’s southwest.
Twenty-one cases of the disease have been linked to the Crossroads Hotel in Casula, the majority of whom attended the popular pub on July 3 or are close contacts of those who did.
NSW chief medical officer Kerry Chant confirmed on Monday that authorities were considering the possibility a truck driver could be the source of the Crossroads Hotel outbreak.
“This is called the Crossroads Hotel for a reason. It’s on a popular route,” she told reporters.
She said the hotel was on a main transit route and health authorities were working with other states and territories to ensure they were aware of the cluster. Freight companies have been informed.
“Investigations are ongoing as to the source. It’s very important we investigate this thoroughly before disclosing what we think is the origin,” Dr Chant said.
NSW Health is awaiting test results, which should be available in the coming few days, that will help authorities determine the source.
“(It’s) a pivotal part of the investigation as to whether these cases can be linked to any travellers from Melbourne because that gives us comfort we are not missing another avenue of transmission,” Dr Chant said.
“We are looking very hard to establish the source, the initial index case, but it’s premature to speculate. We need specialised genetic testing of the virus strains.”
Deputy chief medical officer Dr Nick Coatsworth said the pub was frequented by truck drivers, and he warned them to remain vigilant and not to stop at pubs and shops if they if they had symptoms. If they did develop symptoms, they should get tested.
He also said people who had left NSW but went to the hotel between July 3 and 10 should also get tested.
Dr Coatsworth said this included truck drivers “because that is a particular venue that is also frequented by people who do transnational freight driving”.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is expected to announce a tightening of restrictions on Tuesday, with the number of people allowed in venues like pubs and restaurants to be slashed.
Larger venues are likely to be limited to 300 patrons, and group bookings will be halved from 20 people to 10.
Speaking to 2GB Tuesday morning, Ms Berejiklian confirmed pubs would be capped at 300 people and the four-square-metre rule would still apply.
“Today we will be making an announcement on restrictions to high-risk activity,” she said.
“We have to accept no matter what we’re doing, whether that be going to a pub … we have to assume everyone has the virus.”
Pub-goers have been slammed this week after images emerged of hundreds of patrons failing to social distance when lining up outside venues.
When asked whether capping these establishments would lead to larger queues, the Premier said it was up to people to take responsibility.
“If you’re lining up outside your corner bakery or to pick up your dry cleaning – you have to keep distance,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“We cannot pretend life is normal, and it will not be normal until there’s a cure or vaccine.”
The Premier is due to provide further detail on restrictions later Tuesday morning.
Originally published as Truck driver could be patient zero
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