Health authorities in the Hunter region have issued an alert regarding a Sydney worker employed at the new Costco warehouse in Lake Macquarie.
- The Hunter has recorded three new cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm yesterday
- A Sydney worker employed at Costco at Boolaroo has tested positive
- Checkpoints are in place out of Sydney and Newcastle police are warning anti-lockdown protestors not to gather in the city this weekend
The Hunter’s rate of COVID-19 cases was starting to fall this week, with just three new cases reported in the 24 hours to 8:00pm last night.
But Public Health Controller David Durrheim today confirmed a new case — a worker from Sydney — had come to light.
Initially, Hunter New England Health reported the case was a construction worker but Costco has reportedly confirmed the person is a worker from Sydney head office.
“Unfortunately, last night we became aware of another importation [of COVID-19 from Sydney into] the Hunter area,” Dr Durrheim said.
He said it was the third time a Sydney worker had brought the virus to the Hunter.
“This time it’s at Costco at Boolaroo and anybody who has been at that site since Monday needs to immediately isolate, get tested, and wait for NSW Health to contact them,” he said.
More than 300 contacts at the Costco warehouse have so far been identified and are being contacted for testing and isolation requirements.
Dr Durrheim had this message for companies in the local region.
“We really think that employers need to think very carefully about the origin of their workforce,” he said.
Outbreak reaches 153 cases
The total number of COVID-19 cases in the Hunter New England region now stands at 153.
Of the latest cases, two are from the Newcastle region with one in Wallsend and one in Jesmond. One case was from the Maitland region at Tenambit.
Thirty-one people are currently being cared for in hospital in the Hunter, but none are in ICU.
Today NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced added restrictions for regional parts of the state.
From Monday, wearing masks outside will be mandatory across NSW unless people are exercising.
A major police operation is underway to stop people travelling from Sydney to the Newcastle region without an appropriate permit.
Police have set up checkpoints on the three main routes northbound out of Sydney — at the M1 at Morriset, Wyee Road at Morriset, and the Pacific Highway at Lake Munmorah.
Hundreds of cars have been stopped since the operation began this morning and it is expected to continue into the evening.
The penalty for travelling to regional NSW in breach of the public health order is $3,000.
Police protest warning
Police are also warning anyone considering attending a COVID protest in Newcastle this weekend that mass gatherings will not be tolerated.
Northern region commander Peter McKenna said police had received intelligence that a protest was being organised.
“Now is not the time for that,” Assistant Commissioner McKenna said.
“Now more than ever we don’t need mass gatherings.
“The people of Newcastle, the people of the Hunter have done the right thing so far.
“Our numbers are stabilising, we’re going well and we need to get out of this lockdown as quickly as possible.
“We will take enforcement action and we will take it swiftly.”