Authorities urge vigilance after Covid-infected man visits Bondi Junction, Vaucluse, North Ryde

Westfield Bondi Junction (pictured) is one of a number of locations visited between 11–15 June by a man who has tested positive to Covid-19. Photo: Westfield Bondi Junction/Facebook.

By PETER HACKNEY

NSW Health is urging Sydneysiders to be vigilant and comply with advice on testing and self-isolation after a Sydney man became the state’s first locally acquired case of Covid-19 in 40 days.

The Bondi man, who works as a driver, transporting international hotel crews, returned a positive saliva test yesterday and had his Covid-19 infection confirmed by PCR test today. His positive result will be included in tomorrow’s official case numbers. 

“Urgent investigations into the source of the infection and contact tracing are underway, as is genome sequencing,” read a statement issued by NSW Health this afternoon.

Concerningly, the man visited numerous stores in the large Westfield Bondi Junction shopping centre while unknowingly infected, and attended a screening of the Salma Hayek and Ryan Reynolds movie, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, at the centre’s Event Cinemas multiplex.

Anyone who attended the 1.45pm screening of the film in cinema 1 at the venue on Sunday, 13 June is ordered to get tested immediately and self-isolate for 14 days, regardless of the result.

Other moviegoers who were at Event Cinemas Bondi Junction between 1.30pm and 4pm on Sunday are ordered to get tested and self-isolate until further notice.

The cinema attendees should call NSW Health on 1800 943 553, authorities said this afternoon. 

Contact tracers are now racing to find people who visited 12 exposure sites in Bondi Junction and Vaucluse in the Eastern Suburbs, as well as North Ryde, in Sydney’s north.

The twelve exposure sites include cafes, restaurants, a bakery and the Bondi Junction David Jones store between Friday, 11 June and Tuesday, 15 June. 

A full list of the locations can be found at www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Pages/case-locations-and-alerts.aspx.

While the main focus is currently on Bondi Junction, Vaucluse and North Ryde, NSW Health continues to urge anyone with any potential Covid-19 symptoms, anywhere in NSW, to get tested.

Potential symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, and loss of taste and/or smell. 

Other reported symptoms include fatigue, blocked nose, muscle pain, joint pain, headache, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, unexplained chest pain and conjunctivitis.

Information on Covid-19 testing and locations can be found at www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Pages/clinics.aspx.

Covid-19 vaccination information and locations, meanwhile, can be found at www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/vaccine/Pages/community.aspx.

While authorities grapple with a possible outbreak relating to the Bondi man, there are fears of a potential Sydney hotel quarantine outbreak after a traveller was infected with an identical Covid strain to a couple based in an adjacent room.

NSW Health is investigating the development, with the viral sequence of all three cases confirmed as the same UK strain, known as the Alpha variant.

How the transmission occurred on the fourth floor of the Radisson Blu quarantine hotel in the CBD remains unknown.

The couple, who were asymptomatic, returned a positive Covid-19 result following a test on Thursday, 3 June.

Peter Hackney is the editor-in-chief of the Sydney Sentinel.