NSW pub cluster adds to second wave coronavirus fears

Left: Screenshot of a notice issued by NSW Health, Right: Sydney Opera House, NSW

New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state reported 14 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, adding to the growing fear of a possible second wave coronavirus infection in the state.

The new cases in New South Wales come after neighbouring Victoria state last week forced about 5 million people back into lockdown after a surge of new coronavirus cases.

Australia has avoided the high COVID-19 casualty numbers of other nations with swift and strict measures, recording fewer than 10,000 coronavirus cases in total. However, authorities are worried about rising cases of community transmission.

This accounted for 8 of the 14 new cases in New South Wales in the last 24 hours, while the rest were people who have returned from overseas and are already in hotel quarantine or have returned from Victoria.

The bulk of these community transmission cases were people who recently visited a pub in southwest Sydney, the Crossroads Hotel, taking the cluster to 13 in all.

“The concern is that this hotel is used by freight drivers who are transporting essential supplies across the country,” Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

“They are not being tested.”

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said anyone who either worked or visited the Crossroads Hotel from 3-10 July should isolate themselves for 14 days after they were last at the hotel, regardless of symptoms or test results, and be tested even if they are not displaying any symptoms.

In Victoria state, authorities on Monday reported 177 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, the eighth consecutive day of triple digit rises in COVID-19 cases, but down from 273 cases the previous day.

“It may not be our peak yet,” Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton told reporters in Melbourne. “I would like to see a week of decreasing numbers.”