Coronavirus cases in NSW quarantine hotels double as infections in USA, Europe skyrocket

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Coronavirus cases in NSW’s hotel quarantine program have doubled in the past two weeks, NSW Health data shows, as infections explode in the United States and Europe.

Since early June, NSW Health has been publishing the number of people in hotel quarantine who tested positive for coronavirus.

With cases ramping up overseas, so too have the case numbers among people returning to Australia.

The seven-day moving average jumped from just two per day in early October to more than five per day between October 24 and 29.

NSW Police said as of 7:00am on Thursday, October 29, there were more than 5,100 people in the state’s quarantine hotels.

Since March 29, more than 82,000 people have arrived at Sydney Airport and been placed in NSW’s hotel quarantine program.

NSW Health data shows that 12.1 per cent (111 cases) of the positive cases were in travellers arriving from Pakistan, followed by India (11.7 per cent, 107 cases), USA (10.6 per cent, 97 cases) and 8.8 per cent (81 cases) from the UK.

A further 13.6 per cent of positive cases had come in on cruise ships.

Last week, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said her state was taking 3,000 returned overseas travellers a week into its hotel quarantine program, about 45 per cent of which were from other states.

She criticised WA and Queensland and said those states needed to do more to help repatriate Australians.

“I get really frustrated and annoyed when WA and Queensland expect us to process all of their citizens, which we do gladly, but then think of all these excuses as to why New South Wales residents can’t move freely into their states,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“You can’t have it both ways.”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian provides an update on the number of coronavirus cases in NSW
Gladys Berejiklian has called on WA and Queensland to take in more returning Australians.(AAP: Joel Carrett)

Victoria, which has grappled with a significant second wave of coronavirus infections, is still not taking overseas flights.

Several repatriation flights for Australians have landed in Darwin in the past week.

Despite the pandemic originating in Asia, it has been spared the worst of it in recent months.

However, Pakistan has recorded more than 330,000 cases and 6,759 deaths and is responsible for many cases in NSW’s hotel quarantine program.

About 800 new cases are being identified each day in Pakistan, down from a record high of 12,000 in June.

Farhat Jaffri, the president of the Pakistan Association of Australia, said Pakistan had contained the virus comparatively well compared with other developing countries.

He said travellers returning from Pakistan could not get direct flights to Australia, which increased the risk of catching the virus from other travellers.

His wife, Azra Farhat, was one of many Australian residents stranded in Pakistan when the pandemic struck in March.

“When the borders closed, she had to stay in Pakistan and was there for six months before she could get home,” he said.

She spent two weeks in quarantine in the Travelodge in Sydney when she returned.

Mr Farhat said most Australian residents who were in Pakistan had now returned home.

A spokesperson for NSW Health said all arrivals were screened at the airport and those with a fever or COVID-19 symptoms were tested and referred to a “health hotel”, managed by NSW Health.

The rest are directed to a normal hotel, which is managed by NSW Police.

Everyone is tested on day two and again on day 10 and any who refuse the day-10 test have to stay in quarantine for an extra 10 days.



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