Six Victorians who may have been exposed to the South African strain of Covid-19 in a Sydney hotel have been forced into isolation for 14 days.
The interstate travellers have been identified as close contacts of three Covid-19 positive people who were staying at the Mercure Hotel in Sydney.
The three positive cases, including two who are related, returned from overseas and were placed in adjacent rooms on the 10th floor of the hotel to quarantine on April 3.
They later returned positive results for the South African strain of Covid-19 and fears were raised the virus could spread after it was revealed dozens of travellers who stayed at the hotel had already travelled interstate.
The Department of Health said the Victorian travellers were contacted and tested on Thursday.
It comes as the state broke its Covid-free streak on Friday when a Melburnian who had returned from overseas via hotel quarantine in Western Australia tested positive after a similar outbreak in a Perth hotel.
The interstate travellers have been identified as close contacts of three Covid-19 positive people who were staying at the Mercure Hotel in Sydney
The six who had been in Sydney had been staying at the Mercure Hotel where two other residents contracted the UK variant of the strain from a third traveller.
They are among 40 returned travellers who stayed at the busy Mercure hotel in Sydney anytime between April 7 and 12 being urgently tracked by NSW Health.
Officials have successfully contacted 36 hotel guests but are still desperately trying to reach four remaining people.
They are all being directed to get tested and self-isolate until 14 days after they left quarantine.
The three infected returned travellers, including two who are related, touched down in Australia on April 3.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant on Thursday said they all travelled on the same plane and were seated in the same section of the aircraft.
But as they all tested negative during their first Covid swab on day two of their hotel stay, it appears they were not infectious while in transit.
Dr Chant said the trio stayed in adjacent rooms on the 10th floor while completing their mandatory two-week quarantine.
NSW Health is also urgently tracking 40 returned travellers who stayed at the busy Mercure hotel in Sydney anytime between April 7 and 12
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant on Thursday said the three people travelled on the same plane and were seated in the same section of the aircraft
‘What we are concerned about is there could have been transmission,’ Dr Chant said.
‘If that transmission event occurred in the hotel, the question is, could other people have been exposed?’
The hotel quests tested positive to the virus on day seven, 10 and 12 of their stay.
Dr Chant said officials are taking a ‘precautionary’ approach with their latest health advice as they do not have a ‘definitive conclusion’ on how the three people contracted the virus.
There were about 40 people staying on the same hotel floor as the Covid-positive travellers, before they were moved to a health hotel.
‘We have managed to contact 36 of those individuals, a number have gone into other states and territories and those states and territories have been alerted,’ Dr Chant said.
Health authorities are ‘urgently escalating’ contact with the remaining four hotel guests.
Officials have successfully contacted 36 hotel guests but are still desperately trying to reach four remaining people (stock)
Meanwhile, Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the state’s first mass vaccination hub at Sydney Olympic Park in Homebush will be open for business by mid-May.
‘We’re expecting this hub to be able to dispense around 30,000 vaccines every single week,’ she said.
‘This has not been done ever, to my knowledge, in NSW,’ Health Minister Brad Hazzard said.
GPs will remain the first port of call for those receiving the AstraZeneca jab, but those who want to be vaccinated in a state facility or don’t have a GP will be able to get vaccinated at the hub.
Those with underlying health issues are particularly encouraged to go through their GPs.
The Homebush hub will predominantly administer Pfizer vaccines, which are trickier to store and distribute because they have to be stored at extremely low temperatures.
Some other vaccine sites across the state that have been distributing AstraZeneca jabs will be converted to allow them to dispense the Pfizer vaccine.
More than 180,000 COVID vaccinations have already been administered by NSW Health.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian (pictured on Thursday) announced the state’s first mass vaccination hub at Sydney Olympic Park in Homebush will be open for business by mid-May