Australia's Sydney records first local COVID-19 case in 26 days

Source: Xinhua| 2020-12-03 11:35:55|Editor: huaxia

SYDNEY, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- The Australian city of Sydney reported its first locally acquired case of COVID-19 in nearly a month on Thursday, with a hotel quarantine worker testing positive for the virus.

According to a New South Wales (NSW) Health spokesperson, the positive case was an employee at a hotel in Sydney's Darling Harbour which provides quarantine for returned travellers.

"Urgent genome sequencing is underway to determine whether this is an infection acquired in the community or through work at the hotel quarantine facility. These results are expected in the next 24 to 48 hours," the spokesperson said.

Close to 100,000 people have so far passed through the NSW hotel quarantine system, which NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said comes with an acceptable risk to the community.

The case comes just one day after officials announced a massive scaling back of COVID-19 restrictions on businesses, allowing larger crowds inside retail and hospitality venues.

Upper limits on the number of people allowed in venues were replaced with a one person per two-square metres rule, while outdoor theatres and stadiums were told they could operate at 100 percent capacity.

Berejiklian said the changes would go ahead as planned, however she stressed the importance of enabling contact tracing through venue sign-ins and other measures.

"We can't stress enough how important it is to have those systems in place, whether it's QR codes, whether it's other forms of collecting information through the transport system or other networks," Berejiklian said.

"This is what will allow us to fight the virus, keep the virus at bay, but also keep our economy open and this is the balance we need to strike in our state."

Meanwhile, virus fragments detected via an ongoing sewage testing program prompted a warning from NSW authorities to residents of several Sydney suburbs to be on the lookout for symptoms.

According to NSW health, the positive case announced on Thursday did not reside in the affected catchment area. Enditem