An unvaccinated staff member at an aged-care facility in Sydney’s north west is among 24 new COVID-19 cases in NSW, sparking renewed concerns that not all healthcare workers are getting the jab.
- The unvaccinated worker was a contact of an unvaccinated student nurse who worked at two Sydney hospitals
- The Premier said the number of cases already in isolation would be “the measure of our success”
- There has now been 195 locally acquired COVID-19 cases reported since June 16
Chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said the man worked at Summit Care in Baulkham Hills and was a close contact of an unvaccinated 24-year-old student nurse who tested positive after working at Fairfield Hospital and Royal North Shore Hospital.
Dr Chant said the good news was that the man was not at work while infectious, and the majority of residents at Summit Care had been vaccinated for at least a month.
“I was very pleased to be advised that around 135 out of the 149 residents at Summit Care were vaccinated and they had concluded their Pfizer vaccination for over a month,” she said.
Dr Chant today revealed the nurse’s close friend who worked at both Fairfield Hospital and Royal North Shore Hospital, along with the Royal Ryde Rehabilition Hospital, had also tested positive.
To date, more than 200 staff and patients have been identified as close contacts.
Dr Chant confirmed the student nurse had not been vaccinated.
However around 200,000 vaccines had been administered to health professionals in the public and private systems, Dr Chant said.
NSW Health also confirmed a person tested positive to COVID-19 a day after attending the Sydney Olympic Park vaccination centre on Tuesday June 29.
In a statement, NSW Health said the vaccination centre had been thoroughly cleaned and contact tracing was underway, with some close and casual contacts already idenitifed.
A man whose mother resides at SummitCare Baulkham Hills said the situation showed how “bungled” the vaccine rollout had been.
SummitCare Baulkham Hills advised families of the positive result in an email early this morning, saying the majority of residents are fully immunised.
Richard Aichinger’s 88-year-old mother, who has received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine, has lived at the home for nearly two years.
“Mum’s pretty stoic,” he told the ABC.
“She’s got no problems being there, she’s quite confident with the vaccine.
“They’ve taken very good care of her and the other residents. She’s fairly happy there but maybe a bit nervous with what’s happened today.”
In the letter to families, CEO Michelle Sloane said all staff who worked shifts at the same time as the nurse were isolating.
“Whilst we recognise that this is distressing news we wish to reassure you that all precautions have immediately been activated and all staff and residents will undergo testing first thing tomorrow morning,” Ms Sloane wrote.
Mr Aichinger said SummitCare had been exemplary through the pandemic, but his disappointment lay with the vaccine rollout.
His partner works in community aged care and has only just been able to get a vaccine booking in two weeks.
“I think it’s just a bungling of the whole vaccine rollout,” he said.
“Everyone had the impression that healthcare and aged care workers were going to be given priority and it doesn’t seem that they have been.”
‘Minimise movement’, Sydney residents urged
Earlier, NSW Premier Gladys Bereijiklian warned Sydney’s lockdown would fail unless people did more to reduce their movement.
The Premier said it was “cause for concern” that half of the new cases had been out in the community while infectious.
“If we want the lockdown to succeed, all of us have to minimise our movements,” she said.
“In too many examples we are seeing workers who are leaving the house with symptoms or going to work with symptoms, then inadvertently as they are going about shopping or other activity, they are passing it onto others.”
The Premier said the proportion of new positive cases already in isolation would be the “measure of our success” over the next few days.
“All of us to have minimise our interaction with others, as difficult as that is, to make sure that the lockdown is successful,” she said.
There has now been 195 locally acquired COVID-19 cases reported since June 16, when a limousine driver based in Sydney’s eastern suburbs tested positive after transporting international flight crew.
Of today’s new cases, 17 were linked to existing clusters.
Dr Chant said two passengers on a Virgin flight from the Gold Coast to Sydney on Saturday had tested positive.
It comes after a crew member on the same flight tested positive after undergoing a rapid test on Saturday night.
The government today announced it would establish two new mass vaccination centres — in south-west Sydney and the Illawarra — as well as a large clinic in Sydney’s CBD to help the state with an influx of Pfizer vaccines being provided by the Commonwealth.
One of the major vaccination hubs will be in an old Coles building in Macquarie Fields while the other will be in a former David Jones in Wollongong.
The government said the new vaccination hubs were expected to deliver thousands of additional jabs each week and would operate alongside the one already operating at Sydney Olympic Park.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the new Sydney City vaccination hub would be close to public transport, which would allow staff to work through extended opening hours.
Mr Hazzard also announced 22 pharmacies across regional and rural NSW would begin administering the AstraZeneca jab as part of a pilot program.
The first shots will be given from mid-July in pharmacies in towns including Gulgong, Narromine, Walcha, Dungog, Dunedoo and Merriwa.
There were 59,941 tests reported to 8:00pm last night, compared with the previous day’s total of 68,220.