Seven new cases linked to northern beaches cluster grows

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It comes as a further seven locally transmitted cases of coronavirus have been diagnosed in NSW, with all of them linked to the northern beaches cluster.

Six have been confirmed as part of the Avalon cluster.

The seventh case is “under investigation”, but Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the person had attended the Belrose Hotel.

NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said that seventh case was a firefighter – a man in his twenties – who lived in Northern Beaches.

“What we know is that this young gentleman in his 20s has one of the earliest onset of illnesses in the cluster, confirmed on the basis of serlogical testing and PCR,” she said.

“What we‘re looking at is for the missing link – who else was present at the Belrose.

“Anyone who was at the Belrose Hotel any time between 12-6pm on 11 December we’re asking you to get a test. Irrespective of whether you have symptoms or not, please go out and undertake testing … and please isolate until you get that negative test.”

NSW Health is working with Fire and Rescue NSW to ensure all contacts are identified and tested.

The new cases come as Dr Chant revealed patient zero of the explosive northern beaches cluster remained a mystery that might never be solved.

Dr Chant said there were five mystery cases NSW Health authorities were trying to solve.

These include a person linked to Sydney’s CBD, a person from Bondi, a man who was in the CBD area in the Chifley Square/MLC buildings and the Circular Quay areas of the CBD, as well as a firefighter included in Sunday’s cases.

Dr Chant said there was also a person who worked in the southern end of the Northern Beaches in Manly and commuted into the area.

“We are just checking with Opal card and transport about whether there was any overlap on any of his bus routes into the Northern Beaches and whether any infectious cases were travelling at the same time as that individual,” she said.

Health authorities had detected positive traces of coronavirus in the sewage at the Warriewood, Hornsby Heights and Brooklyn catchments.

“New South Wales Health is aware of recently positive cases in these areas but again urges local residents to come forward and get tested even if they have the mildest of COVID symptoms,” Dr Chant said.

Sunday’s new cases come after Health Minister Brad Hazzard blew up over “appalling” scenes on Bronte Beach, where Santa hat wearing backpackers gathered in the hundreds to celebrate Christmas.

He said the group’s actions could lead to a “superspreader event”, and said it was clear the group “didn’t give a damn about Sydney”.

The Tweed and Byron Police District also said 300 people had gathered illegally at Belongil Beach in the early hours on Sunday, as well as 300 people at another party at Main Beach.

Under the current restrictions, outdoor gatherings are limited to no more than 100 people in a public place including beaches and parks.

NSW Police said they had seen an increase in large public gatherings requiring “significant clean-up efforts”. and will ramp up patrols over New Year’s to make sure people are celebrating in a COVID-safe way.



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