NSW has confirmed 11 more community COVID cases – among them a state government minister, with fears other MPs are likely to follow.
Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall confirmed his diagnosis on Thursday morning.
“This morning, just after 8am, I was formally advised by NSW Health that I had returned a positive test for COVID-19,” he said.
He has been in isolation since Tuesday night, after being told to isolate and get tested after dining with three other Nationals MPs at a Paddington pizza restaurant on Monday. It was later listed as an exposure site by NSW Health.
Mr Marshall said contact tracers were all but certain the restaurant was the source of his infection.
“In terms of the timing of my exposure, they will go through now and work out what point I realistically would have become infectious,” he told the ABC.
The other MPs were Ben Franklin, Trevor Khan and Steph Cooke. None has yet given an update on their COVID status.
NSW Health said it had 18 new community coronavirus cases on Thursday, including 13 already announced. It also has six more that were confirmed after Wednesday’s 8pm cut-off and will officially be part of Friday’s figures.
The Bondi cluster has grown to 36 cases. They latest include people who live, work or have visited Bondi, Paddington, Double Bay and Woollongong.
NSW Health has also issued an urgent alert for anyone who visited Crown Hair in Kings Cross between 9am-5pm on Tuesday, June 22, to immediately call NSW Health get tested and isolate for 14 days, regardless of the result.
Premier Gladys Berejiklain – who is under increasing pressure to call a snap lockdown – will give an update at 12.30pm on Thursday.
Strict coronavirus measures came into force across greater Sydney on Wednesday afternoon amid fears about mystery cases emerging in the cluster that began in Bondi a week ago.
On Thursday, the NSW parliament was to operate on a skeleton staff with just enough MPs to pass the budget before it’s suspended, following Mr Marshall’s positive test. The NSW Department of Parliamentary Services has reportedly told all MPs and staff who were at Parliament on Tuesday or Wednesday to isolate until further advised.
Coalition staff were advised in an email on Thursday morning that only 16 MPs would be permitted to enter the parliament building.
This list includes Ms Berejiklian, Deputy Premier John Barilaro, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and other members of Ms Berejiklian’s frontbench.
“Staff are not permitted in Parliament House for any reason, including to collect their belongings,” the email read.
Mr Marshall attended a party room meeting at Macquarie Street with Coalition MPs on Tuesday, ahead of the state budget.
He said he was asymptomatic, and his primary concern was the welfare of his colleagues and parliamentary staff.
“We had budget day on Tuesday and a lot of people in the Parliament, me being one of them,” he said.
Mr Marshall is the member for Northern Tablelands, based in Armidale., but said he would remain in Sydney for the foreseeable future.
“Obviously I will not be coming anywhere near our region until I’m formally released by NSW Health,” he told the ABC.
Mr Marshall’s COVID diagnosis came about an hour after state Health Minister Brad Hazzard said he was in isolation after being identified as a “possible close contact” of somebody with the virus.
“I’m talking about somebody who works for NSW Parliament who may be a positive case,” he said.
“They’re working through those issues … They’ve got to ascertain and confirm with the usual scientific requirements that the case is actually a positive case.”
Mr Hazzard said it “was likely” other MPs could be affected and told the Nine Network he stands next to Ms Berejiklian every day.
“I think the Premier is fairly safe,” he said.
He said he had been self-isolating after receiving a text from NSW Health overnight informing him he might have been exposed to the coronavirus. He had no symptoms.
NSW Opposition Leader Chris Minns told Sydney radio 2GB he would postpone his budget reply speech on Thursday after parliament was reduced to a skeleton staff with MPs told to tell their staff to stay home.
“All sides agree now is not the time for politics … we need to get through what is a very difficult health situation in Sydney,” he said.
Mr Hazzard also played down fears Sydney is on the brink of a lockdown, despite the rapidly expanding coronavirus outbreak.
“I don’t believe that we will go into a lockdown,” he said.
“We [in Sydney] have obviously a clear danger … and now I’m on the receiving end.
“I think it’s a message to everybody. If the NSW Health Minister can get a text message during the night and wakes up to that, then obviously we all have a serious issue at the moment with the Delta virus.”