Fifteenth COVID-19 case confirmed in NSW

NSW Health today confirmed six new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of positive cases to 15 in the state since the outbreak began.

The first new case, the 10th person diagnosed, a man in his 30s, arrived in Sydney from Iran on Sunday 1 March on a flight from Singapore, and transited through Malaysia.

Due to the fact he was unwell during his journey, NSW Health is alerting passengers who were on one of the following flights to monitor for symptoms, and contact their GP or call healthdirect on 1800 022 222 should they become unwell.

Jetstar Asia Airways Flight 5168 departed Kuala Lumpur 29 February 2020, and arrived in Singapore later that same day.

The man then flew to Australia on Qantas Flight QF82 Row 32 which departed Singapore 8.30pm on 29 February and arrived Sydney 1 March 2020 at 7.35am.

The man presented to his GP on 1 March and was referred for testing. He is isolated in Westmead Hospital.

An 11th person, a man in his 50s, has tested positive to COVID-19 having recently returned from Singapore on 28 February 2020 on Qantas Flight QF02 seated in Row 5. The man was symptomatic on the flight and has also been admitted to hospital for isolation at Westmead.

A 12th person, a female in her 60s, arrived in Sydney from South Korea on 27 February on flight Korean Air KE121. She became symptomatic on 28 February and was diagnosed on 3 March. She is currently in isolation at Westmead Hospital.

A 13th person, a female in her 60s, returned to Sydney from Japan on 21 February and was diagnosed on 3 March. The patient is currently under home isolation.

The 14th is a male in his 30s who returned from Iran and arrived in Sydney on 1 March on flight Malindo Air OD171 from Kuala Lumpur. Because he may have been infectious on this flight while seated in ROW 15, passengers seated around him will be contacted by NSW Health. He is currently in Westmead in isolation.

The latest case, is a woman in her 50s, who has not travelled outside of Australia recently and is believed to have acquired the illness locally.

Travellers from Iran, South Korea and Japan should be particularly vigilant for symptoms as there has been a rapid increase in COVID-19 activity there in recent days.

The newly confirmed cases demonstrate the importance of returning travellers knowing the symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough, runny nose or shortness of breath.

Any travellers with these symptoms should isolate themselves from others, seek immediate health advice and practice simple hygiene by covering their coughs and sneezes with a tissue or their elbow and wash their hands thoroughly.

In relation to the doctor who had worked at Ryde Hospital who was a confirmed case on 2 March, 13 doctors, and 23 nurses and 4 other health workers have been identified as close contacts and are in home isolation.

In addition, 8 patients of the infected doctor were identified as close contacts and have all been contacted and have no symptoms of COVID-19.

A further 29 patients were identified as casual contacts, of which 10 have been contacted while the remaining will be followed up tomorrow.

NSW emergency departments are continuing to see increasing numbers of patients presenting, above seasonal averages. Presentations for influenza-like illnesses are well above historic averages, as are those for other types of respiratory illnesses.

“It is timely to remind the community that emergency departments are for emergencies,” Dr Chant said.

“While we see and treat everyone, we will always prioritise more seriously unwell patients. Please consider calling your GP or healthdirect for advice on 1800 022 222. GPs can arrange for COVID-19 testing, or if you are very unwell, you can also call ahead before attending your local emergency department for assessment.

“It is important people take action to keep their family and friends safe. Don’t be afraid to speak to your doctor if you have any symptoms.”

Health workers in NSW public hospitals and community-based GPs have been issued advice to help them identify any cases and apply careful infection control measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.