Recent international arrival likely source of south-west Sydney Omicron cluster

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A growing cluster of COVID-19 cases in south-west Sydney infected with the new Omicron variant has been linked to a recent international arrival who returned to Australia before isolation requirements were reintroduced.

Genomic sequencing concluded another six cases linked to the cluster had been infected with the new variant, bringing the total number of local Omicron cases in NSW to 20.

A cluster of Omicron cases in south-west Sydney has grown again, with more sequencing to be completed this week.Credit:Peter Rae

Transmission in the cluster has occurred among students at Regents Park Christian School, St Peter Chanel Catholic Primary School in Regents Park, and patrons of the Sydney Indoor Climbing Gym at Villawood on November 27. Some cases in the developing cluster are yet to be sequenced.

“It’s expected that the numbers linked to this cluster will rise as further results are confirmed over the coming days,” Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said on Tuesday.

All locally acquired cases of the Omicron variant detected so far have been within the cluster.

Dr Chant said the cluster is believed to be linked to a returned overseas traveller who arrived in Sydney on November 23 on a flight from Doha after spending an extended period of time in Nigeria.

The south-west Sydney man spent time in the community before testing positive, as he arrived in Australia before isolation requirements for international arrivals were reintroduced.

There are now 31 confirmed Omicron cases in NSW, including 11 who acquired their infections overseas, or possibly while on international flights.

Dr Chant confirmed NSW Health continues to not have any Omicron cases in hospital.

“We’re keeping a close eye on that situation,” she added.

Two new virus deaths were announced in NSW on Tuesday, both aged in their 90s.

One was a man from south-west Sydney who died at Liverpool Hospital. He was not vaccinated and had underlying health conditions.

The second death was a woman who was a resident at Blacktown Terrace Care Community aged care facility, operated by Opal. She was hospitalised at Westmead and had received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine but had underlying health conditions.

On Friday, federal government data showed there were two resident cases at Blacktown Terrace, which is experiencing its second virus outbreak this year.

There were 260 new COVID-19 cases reported in NSW on Tuesday, including more than 200 in metropolitan Sydney. Fifty-six were in South Western Sydney Local Health District and an above-average 55 were in Sydney Local Health District.

With NSW’s vaccination rate approaching 95 per cent “inch by inch” – 94.7 per cent of people aged 16 and over had received one dose and 92.8 per cent were fully vaccinated on Monday – Dr Chant stressed “we still have the opportunity for a number of people to continue to get vaccinated”.

“If you’ve got concerns, please reach out to your pharmacist or GP and talk those concerns through,” she said.

“We now have a lot of international experience around safety of the vaccines. So please engage with your GP or pharmacist, or go to one of the government websites for more information.”

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