Woolworths spokesman insisted risk to customers or team members was low. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Swift
Woolworths spokesman insisted risk to customers or team members was low. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Swift

Loophole let Woolies worker go home

A loophole in Australia's coronavirus rules meant a man who tested positive to COVID-19 in Melbourne was allowed to fly to Sydney and work at a Woolworths store while still infected.

Woolworths' Balmain store had to be closed for a deep clean and 50 staff are in quarantine after a man worked two shifts in the self-checkout over the weekend.

He had flown to Melbourne from Bangladesh and tested positive to COVID-19 before being placed in 14-day quarantine at a Melbourne hotel.

But he was not given a second test before leaving and subsequently carried the virus to Sydney.

Under national guidelines there is no requirement for a second test before a positive case leaves hotel quarantine.

"We do not necessarily test everyone to get them for clearance," NSW chief medical officer Kerry Chant said.

The Woolworths supermarket at Balmain was cleaned and is back open. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Swift
The Woolworths supermarket at Balmain was cleaned and is back open. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Swift

"We know that people can have remnants of the virus for eight weeks, the virus is dead, not infectious."

The loophole was put to acting chief medical officer Paul Kelly on the ABC's 7.30 program last night.

Host Leigh Sales asked: "How was he cleared to leave the hotel in Melbourne? Did he ever test negative?"

 

Prof Kelly responded: "That's an emerging issue that we need to get on top of, clearly."

"In terms of what happened about clearance from quarantine, my understanding is Victorian authorities did exactly what is required from the national guidelines, and so this symptoms that occurred after he arrived back in Sydney appeared to be a new thing and so the right thing was done at that time."

Shoppers who visited the store have been told to keep an eye out for their own symptoms, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said.

 

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said shoppers should look out for symptoms. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Jeremy Piper
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said shoppers should look out for symptoms. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Jeremy Piper

 

A Woolworths spokesman insisted risk to customers or team members was low.

"While NSW Health has confirmed the risk of transmission to customers and team members is low, the safety and wellbeing of the local community is our priority," a statement said.

"As a food retailer, we have very high standards of cleaning and hygiene in place. The store has had an additional deep clean overnight.

"Customers and team members should be assured they can continue to safely shop and work at our Balmain supermarket."

The spokesman said any customers who shopped in the Balmain store on the weekend who begin feel unwell in the next two weeks should make contact with NSW Health.

 

 

Originally published as Loophole let Woolies worker go home



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