Potts Point COVID cases linked, PM staffer in isolation

 

NSW Health has linked three new cases today to the Potts Point area cluster, including two people who visited The Apollo restaurant on Wednesday 22 July, then the Cruising Yacht Club Australia (CYCA) in Rushcutters Bay on subsequent nights.

The yacht club has closed for deep cleaning.

The two cases dined at both the Thai Rock Potts Point restaurant and The Apollo restaurant and NSW Health now believes this links the two outbreaks.

Vice Commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club Australia Noel Cornish and his partner have tested positive for COVID-19.

Sources told The Daily Telegraph Mr Cornish is the club board member who contracted the virus, prompting the Rushcutters Bay facility to be closed for deep cleaning on Tuesday.

As a result every board member has now been tested for COVID-19, including one person who is currently in Queensland.

They are isolating awaiting test results.

The third new case today is a staff member of Apollo.

NSW Health is also now asking anyone who visited the Apollo restaurant in Potts Point on July 22 to immediately self-isolate for 14 days and be tested for COVID-19 regardless of symptoms.

Vice Commodore Noel Cornish.
Vice Commodore Noel Cornish.

This is in addition to the advice issued on Monday already directing those who have dined on Thursday 23 to Saturday 25 July to quarantine for 14 days since their visit.

Anyone who attended the CYCA on the following dates during these times is asked to monitor for symptoms and seek testing if they develop:

- Thursday 23 July 6pm-7.30pm

- Friday 24 July 3.30pm-5pm

- Sunday 26 July 4pm-5.30pm

Mr Cornish has been a member of the Club since 2002.

He owns a boat called Sydney 47 St Jude and regularly competes in races, including the Blue Water Pointscore Series and has competed in 13 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Races.

In a statement, the Cruising Yacht Club Australia said it had been advised an "active member of the club has tested positive."

PM'S STAFFER IN ISOLATION AFTER APOLLO VISIT

A staff member of Prime Minister Scott Morrison is in self-isolation after attending a restaurant where a confirmed COVID-19 case dined.

Adviser Nico Louw was at Apollo in Potts Point at the time another diner who had coronavirus was dining and has been directed by NSW Health to isolate.

The Daily Telegraph understands Mr Louw had a COVID-19 test as a precaution, which was returned as negative. However he will remain isolated for 14 days.

A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister confirmed a staff member was self isolating following the NSW Health alert.

"The acting Chief Medical Officer advised that because the staff member has no COVID-19 symptoms, the prime Minister is clear to continue with his plans," she said.

KINGS CROSS FITNESS FIRST CASE

An inner-city gym was forced to deep clean last week after authorities confirmed a COVID-19 case had attended a group workout session at the facility.

Fitness First in Kings Cross carried out the clean on Monday, July 20 after being made aware of the case, however the gym has since been cleared by health officials.

NSW Health has contacted members identified as being in proximity to the person diagnosed with COVID-19 and they have all been instructed to self-isolate.

It is not known at this stage if the recent COVID cases in Potts Point have any connection.

Fitness First in Kings Cross. Picture: Christian Gilles
Fitness First in Kings Cross. Picture: Christian Gilles

SIX PUBLIC HEALTH ORDER FINES ISSUED

In the last 24 hours six fines have been distributed to people across NSW, including a Kiama couple who allegedly did not self-isolate after returning from Victoria.

It is understood the couple - a 36-year-old man and 37-year-old woman - returned to NSW with their two children on July 12.

The couple, who were required to remain at their residential address with their two children until Sunday 26 July 2020, allegedly left their home on several occasions between Monday 20 and Wednesday 22 July 2020.

The man was issued a Future Court Attendance Notice for failing to comply with noticed direction in relation to section 7/8/9 - COVID-19 and the woman issued a $1000 fine.

Others charged for breaching public health orders include a 41-year-old woman who failed to isolate after travelling from Byron Bay to Liverpool, a 37-year-old man who had returned from Victoria and did not isolate, as well as a 39-year-old woman, and a 44-year-old man who were turned around at the Victorian border trying to enter NSW without a permit.

COVID DIAGNOSIS ON SYDNEY FLIGHT

Passengers on-board a flight from Melbourne to Sydney have been ordered to self-isolate after a passenger tested positive for COVID-19.

NSW Health is contacting passengers who were close contacts on flight JQ506 from Melbourne to Sydney that arrived on July 25.

Passengers who were close contacts are being placed into self-isolation for 14 days after the flight and asked to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, and get tested, even if they have the mildest of symptoms.

A woman in her 30s who tested positive for COVID-19 was a passenger on the flight. She is in isolation and contact tracing is underway.

Close contacts on the flight were seated in rows 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14.

Travellers who have arrived from overseas in the past 14 days are currently in quarantine.

VICTORIA'S NEW CASES STILL TOP 300

Victoria has recorded 384 new virus cases and six additional deaths following a record 532 coronavirus cases announced on Monday.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said of the six new deaths, three were aged in their 80s, two in their 90s and one in their 70s.

Four of these deaths have been linked to aged care centres as Mr Andrews warns he does not have "confidence" these facilities have capacity to keep their residents safe.

Mr Andrews said ADF personnel are door knocking on the homes of people who have tested positive to COVID-19 and are "sadly finding some people who are positive are not at home."

"This is a real, real concern," he said.

He also announced elective surgeries other than "the most urgent" will be temporarily suspended to redirect health resources to the crisis gripping aged care centres.

It comes as the Australian Medical Association has demanded a royal commission into Victoria's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

With no sign Victoria's soaring active case numbers are stabilising, the AMA says a powerful inquiry is needed to find out what went wrong - from hotel quarantine to contact tracing and aged-care facilities.

More than 800 cases have now been linked to 61 aged-care centres, including 84 at St Basil's Home for the Aged in Fawkner.

NSW RECORDS 14 NEW CASES

Meanwhile, NSW has recorded 14 new cases of COVID-19, with each instance being linked to existing clusters of the disease.

Six of the new cases are linked to the funeral gatherings cluster, four to Thai Rock Wetherill Park, and one case is associated with the Thai Rock restaurant at Potts Point. Another case was confirmed in a staff member at the Apollo restaurant in Potts Point.

The two other cases include an infection acquired in Victoria and a returned traveller in hotel quarantine.

Health authorities are calling on anyone who attended several Sydney restaurants to self-isolate for 14 days and get tested for the virus if they develop symptoms.

Anyone who attended The Apollo restaurant at Potts Point from Thursday 23 to Saturday 25 July is being asked to quarantine for 14 days after their visit. Any diners - or residents of the area - who develop symptoms should be tested.

NSW Health has also urged anyone who attended Mounties, Mt Pritchard on Thursday 23 July between 12 midnight and 3am, or on Friday 24 July between 11am to 3pm or 8pm to midnight, or on Saturday 25 July between 12 midnight to 3am to isolate for 14 days and get tested if they have any symptoms.

Patrons who attended the Pritchard's Hotel, 360, Elizabeth Drive on 23 July between 7pm to 7.45pm should get tested if they have any COVID-19 symptoms.

SYDNEY HOTEL GUARDS UNDER SCRUTINY

The NSW government has hired a security company embroiled in Melbourne's coronavirus hotel quarantine fiasco to help guard a Sydney serviced apartment complex that is full of international arrivals.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal Unified Security is supporting NSW Police at the 23-storey Adina Town Hall, where buses arrive daily carrying overseas travellers.

A Unified spokesman last night downplayed the role of its guards - who earn as little as $19.84 an hour - after some were photographed watching their phones at the Adina.

 

A security guard watching a video on his phone outside the Adina Apartment Hotel near Town Hall. Picture: Jonathan Ng
A security guard watching a video on his phone outside the Adina Apartment Hotel near Town Hall. Picture: Jonathan Ng


"NSW Police have the full responsibility for the safe arrival and departure of guests into and out of the hotels," the spokesman said.

He said the guards may have been on a break when they were photographed and that to "suggest they have in some way neglected their duties or created risk to the community would be grossly unfair to that guard and potentially defamatory to the individual and the company".

A NSW Police spokeswoman said it had the "operational lead" on quarantine, with about 200 officers stationed in hotels alongside security staff "who have been engaged to assist with the operation".

 

Adina was one of the companies involved in the COVID-19 security bungle in Melbourne. Picture: Jonathan Ng
Adina was one of the companies involved in the COVID-19 security bungle in Melbourne. Picture: Jonathan Ng

 

"Police continuously conduct roving patrols to ensure the compliance of those in quarantine and to ensure the integrity of the operation is maintained," she said.

"All reports of alleged noncompliance or poor performance (by security companies) will continue to be investigated and action will be taken."

In recent weeks up to 90 per cent of all confirmed new cases of coronavirus in the state have been in hotel quarantine.

A lack of specific training for security guards has been cited as a factor in Melbourne's outbreak, which has since triggered clusters in NSW.

Unified was one of the companies that provided security at Carlton's Rydges on Swanston in Victoria, where many guards and their contacts became infected.

 

Police outside the Adina Apartment Hotel Sydney as a bus of travellers arrive for their 14-day quarantine. Picture: Jonathan Ng
Police outside the Adina Apartment Hotel Sydney as a bus of travellers arrive for their 14-day quarantine. Picture: Jonathan Ng

 

An independent review is under way into the bungled Victorian hotel quarantine program.

Meanwhile, Unified is actively seeking additional guards in NSW to watch guests in quarantine.

"Anyone who has lost their job is in a good position to work for us at the moment, we've got a lot of opportunities, there's work at quarantine hotels in Sydney," one manager said. "Just send your resume in, there's work right now for those who want it."

Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said "in our state, police retain operational control of all hotel quarantine sites".

 

DOUBLE COVID OUTBREAK LIKE "LIGHTNING"

The owner of the two Thai Rock restaurants at the centre of a coronavirus cluster has denied testing positive for the virus and says he is baffled at how "lightning" could strike twice.

NSW Health is investigating whether staff travelled between the Wetherill Park and Potts Point Thai Rock restaurants after a male staff member at the eastern suburbs eatery tested positive.

Thai Rock owner David Boyd said: "We are sitting here going, 'what the heck?' It's like lightning striking twice."

The Potts Point restaurant he owns with wife Stephanie has now been closed for deep cleaning. Their Wetherill Park restaurant is linked to 70 coronavirus cases.

 

The Thai Rock restaurant in Potts Point, whixh has been closed due to a COVID-19 outbreak. Picture: Christian Gilles
The Thai Rock restaurant in Potts Point, whixh has been closed due to a COVID-19 outbreak. Picture: Christian Gilles

 

Mr Boyd said: "We use two totally different teams (at each restaurant). Only Steph and I move between restaurants and we hadn't been at Potts Point during the period of investigations."

It comes as another Potts Point venue - Greek restaurant The Apollo - was forced to close its doors after a staff member contracted COVID-19. It is located just 500m from Thai Rock.

NSW Health has also issued an isolation warning for two venues in Sydney's Mount Pritchard - Mounties and Pritchard's Hotel - after a patron tested positive.

When asked whether he had tested positive, Mr Boyd maintained he and his family had been tested and cleared.

"We got tested on the 16th. No one has tested positive. We're going to go get tested again also," Mr Boyd said.

 

Thai Rock restaurant at Wetherill Park's Stocklands shopping centre. Picture: Dylan Robinson
Thai Rock restaurant at Wetherill Park's Stocklands shopping centre. Picture: Dylan Robinson

 

Chief health officer Kerry Chant said the cause of the new Thai Rock outbreak was being investigated. "We're investigating whether there's crossover of staff or how that could have occurred," she said.

The health department has issued a warning calling for anyone who attended Thai Rock at Potts Point between Wednesday July 15 and Saturday July 25 to be immediately tested. They also need to self-isolate for 14 days since they were last there.

 

David Boyd and Stephanie Boyd, the owners of both Thai Rock restaurants. Picture: Facebook
David Boyd and Stephanie Boyd, the owners of both Thai Rock restaurants. Picture: Facebook

 

Dr Chant would not say where a customer who dined at the restaurant on July 17 caught the virus. "These investigations are at the early phase, it's important we don't speculate, but we are exploring all avenues," she said.

It has also been confirmed that 18 pharmacy staff from St Vincent's Private hospital dined at the Potts Point restaurant on Friday, July 17. They are all now in self isolation and awaiting the result of COVID-19 tests.

The outbreak has created a rift in the restaurant owners' inner circle with those close to the pair telling the Telegraph they had not taken COVID-19 precautions seriously.

Mr Boyd said trolling online had reached new heights following the closure of the Potts Point restaurant.

"I'm watching Steph like a hawk. She's really stressed. She's not sleeping. She's sitting there crying saying 'we did everything right'," he said. "People have said we should be jailed. They have told Steph to 'die and go to hell'. If I had thought I had done something wrong, I would tell the police straight away that I cut a corner."

Mr Boyd confirmed police have so far conducted six checks to make sure the couple were in quarantine at home.

 

Originally published as Company in Melbourne COVID hotel bungle guarding Sydney apartments



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