Pubs, clubs and party settings driving Covid upswing in NSW, chief health officer warns

Lauren Ferri and Duncan MurrayNCA NewsWire
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Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: News Corp Australia

End of year parties and other social gatherings are behind an upswing in Covid cases, NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant has warned, following a potential superspreader event on board a Sydney Harbour party cruise.

The state recorded 403 new local COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the highest daily increase since October.

“NSW Health is seeing an increased number of cases over the last couple of days, and what we’ve been observing is increased transmission in larger social venues such as pubs, clubs and party settings,” Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said.

“This is contributing to the increase in cases, and they’re predominantly occurring in vaccinated individuals.”

There are fears a Sydney Harbour party boat could become an Omicron superspreading event, as 140 revellers may have been exposed to the variant.

NSW Health has confirmed five attendees have tested positive to Covid-19 since the Flow Fridays – 90s Themed Boat Party on Friday night, with at least two “likely” to have the Omicron variant.

Urgent genome sequencing is now under way to confirm which strain the revellers have, while all cases are isolating at home.

Footage has since emerged from inside the party boat that left Sydney’s King Street Wharf 9 at 7.30pm on Friday, showing partygoers dancing side-by-side across three levels of the boat.

NSW Health says the cruise was jointly marketed by Cadman Cruises as “Flow Fridays – 90s Themed Boat Party” and “Freaky Sunday Afrovibe: The Last Dance”.

NSW Health can confirm five people who attended a party boat cruise on Sydney Harbour on the evening of Friday 3 December have tested positive to COVID-19., ,  , , The cruise departed from King Street Wharf 9 at 7.30pm, returning around 11pm., ,  , , Operated by Cadman Cruises, it was jointly marketed as ‘Flow Fridays - 90s Themed Boat Party’ and ‘Freaky Sunday Afrovibe: The Last Dance’., ,  , , Genome sequencing to confirm if any of the five confirmed cases have the Omicron variant is underway – preliminary results indicate two are likely to have it., ,  , , All cases are isolating at home., ,  , , NSW Health is urgently contacting around 140 people who signed in with a QR code before boarding the boat and directing them and members of their households to immediately get tested, isolate and await further public advice., ,
Camera IconInside the superspreading harbour party cruise in Sydney where five Covid-19 cases have emerged. Nine News Credit: Channel 9

“We’re going back to the 90s for this Flow Fridays Boat Party. 90s decor but all current hits,” the event description read.

In the video, revellers are dancing on three different dance floors with confetti and CO2 canons.

Contract tracers are rushing to track down the 140 people on-board who signed in with a QR boat before boarding.

Attendees have been told they must get tested immediately and isolate until they receive further advice.

Prior to the event, partygoers were told to keep “your mask on at all times, unless eating or drinking” and were required to show their Covid vaccination or official exemption.

Camera IconThe boat cruised on Sydney Harbour for about four hours. NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw Credit: News Corp Australia

NSW reported a spike in new cases on Wednesday, with 403 new confirmed cases and one death.

There are now 151 people in hospital with the virus, including 25 in intensive care.

The total number of cases of the Omicron variant in NSW sits at 31, with 20 being locally acquired.

To date NSW has recorded no hospital admissions with the Omicron variant.

“Everyone throughout NSW is urged to continue to come forward for testing at the first sign of even mild symptoms,” NSW Health said.

Originally published as Pubs, clubs and party settings driving Covid upswing in NSW, chief health officer warns

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