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‘A near and present danger’: Concern over Delta coronavirus variant as NSW records two new infections

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said there is increased concern about the infectiousness of the Delta coronavirus variant, after two new local cases were reported in the state. 

“This particular delta virus is a near and present danger,” he told reporters. 

All shoppers who attended Bondi Junction Westfield shopping centre on 12 June (11am-noon) and 13 June (1-2pm, 4-4.30pm) are being asked to present themselves for testing due to concerns about the increased transmissibility of the variant, first discovered in India. 

“It is a virus that is a very capable of transmitting even when we have very fleeting proximity between the individual who is infectious and any of us who might be passing by,” Mr Hazzard said. 

A review of CCTV footage has shown that the case reported yesterday, a man in his fifties who attended Bondi Junction Westfield, likely acquired the infection from passing into the airspace of the original case, the limousine driver. 

Cars line up for COVID-19 testing at Bondi in Sydney, on 17 June 2021.

Cars line up for COVID-19 testing at Bondi in Sydney, on 17 June 2021.

AAP

“[He] was no more than seconds in the near vicinity of the limousine driver…somewhere in the range of between 10 and possibly 50-60 centimetres away in a passing situation,” Mr Hazzard said.

The latest two cases include a female Bondi resident in her 40s who regularly walks through Bondi Junction Westfield.

The other case is a male in his 30s who also visited Bondi Junction Westfield shopping centre, and then later travelled to Wollongong, visiting the Broken Drum cafe in Fairy Meadow. 

Bondi lockdown ruled out for now  

Mr Hazzard said no lockdown of Bondi is being considered at this stage, but he urged the community in the Eastern suburbs to be on high alert and to limit their movements over the weekend. 

He said the potential number of shoppers at Bondi Junction Westfield could be quite large.

“You have to understand that it is not just Myer, David Jones, it is the concern we have is that even if you happen to be passing the person who was infectious.

“For example, on an escalator, walking along a passageway, going through the airspace with a person has breathed out, we could see you becoming positive,” he told reporters on Saturday. 

Mr Hazzard said officials believe the two new cases acquired the infection from the original COVID-19 case, the limousine driver transporting international flight crew when he visited Bondi Junction Westfield on 12 June and 13 June.

In the last 24 hours, 26,000 COVID-19 tests were conducted. Mr Hazzard said due to the increased “potency” of the Delta variant, he would like to see testing numbers reach 40,000 or 50,000. 

The list of exposure sites for COVID-19 has been updated to now include 20 venues across Bondi Junction, Newtown, Redfern, Northmead, Vaucluse and Leichhardt.

For the full list of sites, click here.

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