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  • New South Wales has recorded one new locally contracted case of COVID-19 today, though the origins of the case add to the mystery of the state’s weekend infection
  • The new case is a returned travelled quarantined in Sydney’s Sofitel Wentworth hotel, though they allegedly did not have the virus before coming to Australia
  • As such, the new infection is classified as a locally acquired case even though the person has not yet left the hotel
  • Genomic sequencing has confirmed the case is the same strain of the U.K. virus that infected a security guard working at the Sofitel hotel over the weekend
  • However, CCTV footage shows the security guard followed COVID-19 safety protocols, so how it’s still unclear how either of the cases became infected
  • Still, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has confirmed that COVID-19 restrictions will still ease today as planned despite the new cases

New South Wales has recorded one new locally contracted case of COVID-19 today, though the origins of the case add to the mystery of the state’s weekend infection.

The new case was contracted by an overseas traveller quarantined in Sydney’s Sofitel Wentworth hotel — the same hotel from which a security guard contracted the U.K. strain of the coronavirus on the weekend.

Though the latest case is an overseas traveller already in hotel quarantine, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the case has been classified as a local infection because the traveller allegedly contracted the virus after arriving in Australia.

“They are an overseas traveller but they didn’t have the virus when they came into the hotel,” the Premier said.

Interestingly, genomic sequencing has linked the new case to the security guard and the returned traveller related to the initial weekend case, though how they infected each other remains a mystery.

Although genomic sequencing has linked a returned traveller to the security guard who initially contracted the virus, CCTV footage from the Sofitel hotel allegedly shows the two never interacted and the guard followed strict COVID-19 safety protocols.

The newest case is staying on the same floor as the other quarantine case.

Yet, NSW Health has confirmed there is no linked air-conditioning between the two rooms, which each have their own units, and the units do not connect to the corridor.

The state’s health department said investigations into the nature of the transmissions are ongoing, though the NSW Premier has admitted they may “never find the link” between the security guard and the returned traveller.

Restrictions still to ease

Given the latest case is someone already in hotel quarantine, the NSW Premier said it poses a “negligible” threat to the community and, as such, the planned easing of state COVID-19 restrictions will still go ahead.

From today, people across Sydney will be allowed to stand while drinking inside pubs, clubs, and bars — just in time for St Patrick’s Day.

The weekend case of COVID-19 sparked quick action from the NSW Health Department, which issued a string of health alerts for venues around south Sydney and asked 40 people to self-isolate and get a COVID-19 test.

Apart from today’s hotel quarantine case, however, no new cases have been identified in the state since the initial security guard’s infection over the weekend.

New South Wales has so far hit its vaccine targets, with 37,500 residents receiving their coronavirus jab in the first three weeks of the government roll-out plan.

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