NSW has recorded its first COVID-19 case in 55 days with a hotel quarantine security guard, who had received one dose of the Pfizer vaccine earlier this month, testing positive late on Saturday night.
Urgent contact tracing is underway after NSW Health revealed “a person who works at two Sydney hotels which provide hotel quarantine for returned travellers” returned a positive infection result.
The positive case was recorded by a 47-year-old man who works as a security guard at two COVID-19 hotels for overseas travellers – the Sofitel Wentworth in Sydney’s CBD and the Mantra hotel at Haymarket. He also has a full-time job in an office.
“The guard was vaccinated on March 2, which was obviously good news,” health minister Brad Hazzard said on Sunday.
“But you should be aware the antibody reaction required from vaccination doesn‘t get confirmed, or doesn’t achieve its maximum, until sometime after the first and second vaccinations.
“So we would expect he would be due for another vaccination in the next week or so. As we have said all along, vaccination helps but it does not necessarily stop you getting the virus.”
Four household contacts of the man have recorded negative results. Contact tracers are also racing to determine whether any colleagues at the man’s full-time job were exposed, NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant confirmed.
“This gentleman does have another workplace, and we are just looking at that,” Dr Chant said on Sunday.
“The advice we have had is generally that person resides in an office-based setting, but we are checking with various key cards and other things to track the movements and identify the potential.
“Obviously we will alert the public if there is any risk to the public associated with that workplace, but as you can imagine, the staff are working currently very hard to get this information out to the public.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday confirmed the NSW hotel worker who contracted COVID-19 was partially vaccinated before testing positive to the virus.
Mr Morrison confirmed the revelation after receiving a second Pfizer dose himself on Sunday, but played down fears.
“The individual in this case was vaccinated. But this is important point: the vaccination is not immediate,” he told reporters on Sunday.
Dr Chant said health officials were investigating whether the security worker could have caught the virus from a returned traveller at the Sofitel hotel on March 6 or 7 while doing a 7pm to 7am shift.
“So there was one person identified at the Sofitel Sydney, Wentworth, who was present at the time and overlap in a period when the security officer was working,” she said.
“What we have done as a precaution is reached out again to the workers that were at that hotel at that time, because if this person was exposed we are obviously thinking could anyone else have been exposed?”
Dr Stephen Conaty, director of population health at NSW Health, said contact tracers had launched an urgent investigation.
NSW Health were notified last night of a new case of COVID-19 in a person who works at two Sydney hotels which provide hotel quarantine for returned travellers,” Dr Conaty said.
“The source of the new infection is under investigation and urgent genome sequencing is underway.
“Testing of close contacts is also urgently underway.”
In a tweet NSW Health urged people to get tested if they had symptoms.
“It is critical that everyone continues to practise COVID-safe behaviours and that people come forward for testing if they have even the mildest of symptoms,” NSW Health officials tweeted.
“NSW Health is treating 51 COVID-19 cases, none of whom are in intensive care.”
Three cases of COVID-19 were recorded in overseas travellers.
There were 9269 tests reported to 8pm Saturday night, compared with the previous day’s total of 9994.
NSW has not recorded a positive case of COVID-19 since January 17, when six cases were registered and linked to a western Sydney man who tested on January 16.
Five of the cases were household contacts of the man.
Prior to Christmas, Sydney experience multiple outbreaks which began in the northern beaches.
That region was plunged into lockdown for three weeks after an outbreak that originated at Avalon.
Outbreaks were then recorded at Berala, in Sydney’s north, as well as Croydon in the inner west.