Australian authorities were rushing to find the source of a mysterious COVID-19 infection in Sydney on Thursday, the first locally transmitted case in the city in more than a month, warning residents to prepare for more cases.
Health officials are baffled by the case of a man in his 50s who tested positive on Wednesday, given he had no known connection to high-risk jobs or people.
The New South Wales (NSW) State Department of Health has issued an alert naming more than a dozen places in Sydney visited by the unidentified man in recent days, including restaurants, cafes and shopping centers.
Authorities have also asked thousands of residents of the city’s center-west to look for tests for any mild flu symptoms after fragments of the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19 were detected in the sewer system used by several. suburbs.
Tests on the infected man showed a higher viral load than that typically seen in those infected, potentially increasing the risk that the man has spread the disease, the health department said. Deemed contagious since April 30, it was the first case reported in New South Wales since March 31.
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet went into isolation Thursday after visiting a restaurant at the same time as the infected person, classifying him as a close contact, his office said. Perottet, who attended a state parliament session on Wednesday, tested negative.
Authorities are looking into whether the mystery case is genetically linked to anyone in the quarantine system or to cases in other states, and are also checking which variant of the virus is involved.
Rapid tracing systems, movement restrictions and border restrictions have largely curbed the spread of COVID-19 in Australia, which has recorded 29,865 cases and 910 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
The federal government is currently under pressure to overturn a temporary travel ban for travelers, including its own citizens, from COVID-ravaged India. Australia has blocked all direct flights from the country until May 15.
A report in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper Thursday, citing unidentified sources, said at least two repatriation flights would be sent to India each week from the middle of this month to bring home around 9,000 Australians.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, however, said the situation would be reviewed after May 15.
“We’re not going to commit to it at this time,” Morrison told radio station 3AW on Thursday.
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