NSW Health says it has uncovered a new sequence of COVID-19 which could be circulating in the community, after a security guard who tested positive earlier this week was linked to a case in a quarantine hotel.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant announced on Tuesday afternoon that the guard, whose previously reported case put venues like Sydney Markets on alert, worked at the Marriott Circular Quay earlier this month.
Dr Chant said genomic sequencing had shown he most likely caught COVID-19 from an overseas traveller returning from the USA.
"What that's identified is that it's quite a different sequence to the Crossroads Hotel and other clusters that NSW is experiencing that are related back to the Melbourne virus. This is a different virus, and matches this person who was quarantined at the hotel," she said.
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The guard worked at the hotel on August 3, 4, 7, and 8 and could have picked up the virus on those days, either from the infected US traveller or from another source or "intermediary", she said.
She praised lab workers who had tracked the genomic sequence of the virus for turning the results around in 30 hours - "in record time" - and said exactly how the guard acquired his case was being investigated.
"Our detective work has indicated that the most likely source of infection was at the Marriott Hotel, but the exact nature of how that infection could have been acquired is a matter under intense investigation as we speak," she said.
The guard's case was announced in yesterday's health report and people who visited Sydney Markets at Flemington, Parramatta local court and Banstown shopping centre were put on alert, as he had also worked at these venues while infectious.
"This person had worked in a variety of settings, some of which would have brought him into contact with a number of people, particularly in areas where we were concerned about community transmission like South Western and Western Sydney," she said.
"After the initial public health investigation, people who were in close contact with the guard while [he was] infected have been placed in isolation."
Speaking at the same press conference, NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Leanne McCusker said it was "no doubt concerning" that the guard had likely contracted COVID-19 from a quarantine hotel, but said police were working closely with NSW Health to find out how it may have occurred.
She said they were interviewing people at the hotel and conducting various interviews, and assured the public that "strong and robust safety protocols" were in place in NSW hotels.
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