03 March 2020

NSW Health now has nine confirmed cases since the outbreak of COVID-19 began, with three new cases confirmed yesterday by Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant.

Dr Chant urged people to ensure they are aware of the symptoms of COVID-19 and

seek immediate health assessment if symptoms develop, if they have returned from countries at risk including mainland China, Iran, Italy, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong and Cambodia.

“One case recently travelled from Iran, and one was in close contact with another case who had travelled from Iran. The third case hadn’t travelled internationally in recent weeks,” Dr Chant said.

The first new case, an adult male in his 30s, has been diagnosed with COVID-19 following recent travel from Iran. The man has had relatively mild symptoms, after arriving in Sydney from Iran via Malaysia on Saturday (29 February 2020). He developed symptoms and was tested at a local hospital.

He is being isolated in hospital after test results confirmed a positive result for COVID-19

The second new case, a woman in her 40s, is a close relative of the fifth confirmed case, a man who recently returned from Iran. She had been awaiting test results in hospital isolation.

The third new case is a man in his 50s. The man, a health care worker, is currently being treated in Sydney’s Westmead Hospital and was tested after developing respiratory symptoms. He has not travelled to any high risk countries in recent weeks.

This health care worker was not treating patients at Westmead as incorrectly reported by some media outlets.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said health authorities are following up further contacts of these newly confirmed cases in accordance with National Guidelines.

“NSW Health staff are being vigilant in their efforts to continue testing suspected cases and alert the public when they are confirmed. We continue to work closely with Commonwealth Government agencies and monitor the developing international situation,” Mr Hazzard said.

In relation to the confirmed case who arrived back into Australia on Qatar Airways flight QR 908, the airline has provided NSW Health with the passenger’s seat details and the names of the adjacent passengers.

The woman in her 50s had been in Iran and flew back to Sydney via Qatar, arriving on Sunday 23 February on Qatar Airways Flight QR 908. She developed symptoms the following day, and was tested for COVID on 29 February after presenting to a hospital emergency department.

Anyone on Qatar Airways flight QR908 from Qatar to Sydney that was scheduled to arrive at 6.45pm on Sunday 23 February should be on the alert for symptoms of COVID-19, which include fever, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath. If symptoms develop, people who were on that flight should isolate themselves straight away and contact their GP or local emergency department.

The confirmed case was seated in SEAT 43H. NSW Health is urging all passengers seated adjacent, two rows immediately in front or behind this SEAT 43H to selfisolate and contact their local GP or Public Health Unit.

NSW Health will contact these passengers immediately once their email or phone numbers have been provided by the relevant Federal Authority.

All travellers from Iran, as well as mainland China, must self-isolate for 14 days after leaving the country.

Travellers from Iran should be particularly vigilant for symptoms as there has been a rapid increase in COVID-19 activity there in recent days. The newly confirmed cases demonstrate the importance of returning travellers knowing the symptoms of COVID- 19, such as fever, cough, runny nose, or shortness of breath.

“Any travellers with these symptoms should isolate themselves from others, seek immediate health advice and practise simple hygiene by covering their coughs and sneezes with a tissue or their elbow,” Dr Chant said.

As many respiratory infections are spread by hand to hand contact, it’s important to wash your hands thoroughly and regularly throughout the day. “A pat on the back rather than a hand shake will help too,” Mr Hazzard said.

It is important people take action to keep their family and friends safe. Don’t be afraid to speak to your doctor if you have any symptoms.

Please call ahead to speak to your GP before visiting, or call healthdirect on 1800 022 222. GPs can arrange testing, or if you are very unwell you can also call ahead before attending your local Emergency Department for assessment.

Health workers in NSW public hospitals and community-based GPs have been issued advice to help them identify any cases and apply careful infection control measures to prevent the spread of the COVID-19.

For more information, find the facts at: COVID-19 (Coronavirus)​.