Sydney’s COVID situation is again deteriorating, with The Star casino among a ballooning number of NSW venues to have a virus scare, as the Casula hotel cluster grows and now ensnares an NRL player.
An outbreak linked to the Crossroads Hotel at Casula in Sydney’s south-west, has grown to over 20 with the addition of seven new cases up to midday Monday.
NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant told reporters on Monday afternoon that because the hotel is located on a main freight route, they have alerted other states and territories.
“This is called the Crossroads hotel for a reason, it is on a popular route,” she said.
Earlier, NSW logged another 14 new COVID cases to 8pm on Sunday, including four people in hotel quarantine, eight linked to the Crossroads Hotel, and two more who picked up the virus in Victoria.
NSW Health has asked anyone who visited the Casula pub between July 3 and 10 to immediately self-isolate for 14 days and get tested, even if they have no symptoms.
One of those is Jake Averillo, who plays for the NRL’s Canterbury Bulldogs. The 19-year-old lives with his parents, who visited the hotel on July 5, so he is isolating as he awaits the results of a coronavirus test. Another is federal MP, Anne Stanley.
Another pub in the south-west, the Picton Hotel, is closed for cleaning after a person diagnosed with COVID was found to have visited the venue’s gaming room on July 4, 9 and 10. Anyone who was also at the pub, especially the gaming room, on those dates is also being asked to self-isolate and get tested.
NSW Health also warned about a case having visited The Star casino in Pyrmont, in Sydney’s CBD, on July 4. The casino announced the news to the Australian Stock Exchange in a statement earlier on Monday, saying the person had been at the venue from around 7.30pm to 10.30pm that night.
Dr Chant said the person at The Star did not have symptoms when they visited.
“We also advised that he was largely maintained within his group and really did not interact with anyone else,” she told a press conference.
Despite the Casula cluster growing, authorities believe the patient zero for the Crossroads Hotel cluster is still at large.
“None of these cases appear likely to have been the source of infection at the hotel, which remains closed,” NSW Health said in its daily update on Monday.
Dr Chant said authorities were working on a “hypothesis” that the Casula cluster could be linked to the Victorian outbreak, citing the fact the pub was on a major road route frequented by interstate truck drivers, but that “we have to remain open-minded”.
“It is premature for me to conclude how this came about. I need a few more days to do the relevant testing, to inform my views,” she told a press conference.
Victorian officials have also raised the alarm after two cases in that state were found to have visited NSW venues earlier this month. NSW Health said those infected people visited:
- Murray Downs golf club, on July 4 and 5
- Cook @ Kurnell on July 5, for lunch
- Highfield, Caringbah on July 5 for dinner
- Merimbula RSL on July 6, for dinner
- The Waterfront Café Merimbula on July 7, for breakfast
NSW Health said investigations were underway, but asked anyone who attended the venues at those times to watch for virus symptoms or fever, and to isolate and get tested immediately, if they occur.
NSW Health confirmed “a number” of Australian Defence Force members are isolating after attending the Crossroads Hotel, but none have yet tested positive. Up to 12 ADF members are isolating, according to media reports.
The two NSW residents who picked up their infection in Victoria, and since returning, have been isolating and had no close contacts.
In total, NSW has now recorded 3303 confirmed cases, with 51 deaths. More than 10,700 tests were carried out on Sunday.
On Sunday, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the next month was “critical” for NSW and the Sydney COVID response.
The health department is still urging anyone with even mild symptoms, a cold or cough to get tested and isolate until cleared.
“If you have been in Victoria, don’t mix with other people until two weeks has passed,” NSW Health said.