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'He did everything right': Mystery virus case puts Sydney on alert

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A mystery case of COVID-19 has been diagnosed in a man who lives in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, with authorities yet to determine how he caught the virus but scrambling to limit any possible new outbreak of community transmission.

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NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the man in his 50s had not recently travelled overseas, did not work in a hotel quarantine, border or a health role, and had no idea where he caught the coronavirus.

He also had not recently travelled interstate.

His positive result was recorded on Wednesday morning and NSW Health believe he has been infectious since last Friday.

NSW Health contract tracers are urgently working to identify any contacts and genome sequencing is underway, with results expected in the next 24 hours.

He has a number of close contacts who were being tested and were isolating, NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant told reporters.

He also visited a number of venues while potentially infectious, she said, but had been meticulous about checking in using QR codes.

“This person did everything right, but it goes to show that we can’t take a single thing for granted,” Berejiklian said.

“It goes to show we have to maintain our social distancing, have to make sure we have good hand hygiene, we need to get tested with the mildest of symptoms, and very importantly and significantly, we need to use QR codes.”

A list of venues of concern has been compiled which includes a number of barbecue stores in Silverwater, Annandale and Casula, a meat store in Bondi Junction and a petrol station in Mascot. The man also attended a screening of The Courier at Event Cinemas Bondi Junction on Friday before attending Figo Restaurant at Rushcutters Bay.

He has not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine.

Berejiklian said it was too early to say if coronavirus-related restrictions need to be tightened, but anticipated more locally-acquired cases.

“We have to assume there’s other cases and our response will be proportionate as it always has been in NSW,” she said.

“Everybody in the state needs to be on high alert.

She also encouraged all eligible people to get vaccinated.

People 50 and older have from Monday been able to receive a jab at some Commonwealth-run respiratory clinics.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Wednesday: “We know the strength of the NSW system, the absolute global gold standard.”

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