09 January 2021

An expert panel has determined that a returned traveller who was identified as having the new UK variant of COVID-19 after completing their isolation period was not infectious when they returned to the community.

A returned traveller arrived in NSW from overseas on 21 December and entered mandatory quarantine, where they tested positive for COVID-19 following their day two swab.

The person was transferred to the Special Health Accommodation, which cares for all returned travellers who test positive, and was discharged from the Special Health Accommodation at 12.10am on 5 January.

The person had been medically assessed the day before, met all exit criteria in place at the time, and on the basis of those criteria were considered clear of COVID-19.

On the 7 January, genome sequencing found the person had been infected with the new UK variant of COVID-19.

As a precaution, the person was immediately contacted by NSW Health and asked to isolate for retesting. The person returned a positive test with a high CT value, which indicates low levels of infection, and returned to the Special Health Accommodation.

This person attended several venues in Burwood in Sydney’s Inner West on 6 and 7 January, which, as a precaution, were included in a public health alert released by NSW Health on Friday night. The person has one household contact who has tested negative to date.

Following further comprehensive testing, including serology, an expert panel has today determined that the person was not infectious when they left quarantine.

Anyone who attended the venues in Burwood on 6 and 7 January highlighted in NSW Health’s public health alert should now continue to monitor for symptoms and get tested if even the mildest of symptoms appear, in line with advice for everyone in NSW.

Under new rules determined by the Communicable Diseases Network of Australia, and already implemented in NSW, all returned travellers with variants of concern should:

  • not be released from isolation until at least 14 days after symptom onset
  • have a test (PCR swab) at the end of their isolation period and be cleared by an expert panel prior to release should this test be positive.