Omicron in Sydney: Regents Park Christian School student infected with new COVID-19 variant of concern
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Sydney - M E Times Int'l: New South Wales health authorities are on high alert after a Sydney school student with no overseas travel history tested positive to the Omicron COVID-19 variant of concern.
Authorities are scrambling to work out how the student, who attends Regents Park Christian School, acquired his infection but are concerned it is a community case.
He also has no links to anyone who recently arrived back from overseas.
"NSW Health can confirm one further case of the Omicron COVID-19 variant of concern, bringing the total number of cases in NSW to nine," a statement said.
"The case is a student at Regents Park Christian School in western Sydney. The senior school has been dismissed for the year. Contact tracing and further investigations are underway.
"NSW Health is concerned the virus may have been acquired in the community as the case has no overseas travel history or links to people with overseas travel history."
There are now nine cases of Omicron confirmed in NSW.
"First of all I have to say the positive side is that we're not seeing what we saw earlier in the other variants, we're not seeing people suddenly being rushed to hospital," Health Minister Brad Hazzard said.
"What we're seeing is people who are asymptomatic or who have very mild symptoms generally, but of course this is of concern to the extent that this is the first case that we know of that appears not to have had any travel history.
"It would appear, at least until there is further investigation, the case could well be an on NSW soil transmission."
NSW Health is also investigating the possibility two other students from the same school have been infected with the Omicron variant.
"There are two other students that Health are currently investigating, they have had early indications of a dropout S gene, which is an early indication of a possible Omicron," Mr Hazzard said.
"I'm expecting that those results should be back later today... and we'll know further."
Meanwhile, all passengers who arrived into Sydney on Sunday on a flight from Singapore are being reminded about testing requirements after an individual on board had the Omicron variant.
"As announced yesterday, a traveller on flight SQ231 from Singapore which arrived in Sydney on Sunday 28 November has been infected with the Omicron variant of concern," the statement said.
"They are fully vaccinated and had recently been in southern Africa. The person has been in hotel quarantine since arriving, as required under the NSW public health order.
"NSW Health is requesting every person who was on flight SQ231 from Singapore to Sydney on 28 November to immediately get their first COVID-19 PCR test if not already completed and isolate until they receive a negative result."
NSW recorded 337 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, up from 271 on Thursday.
"To have a modest increase in the numbers is not particularly concerning to me because it hasn't seen a big increase in numbers in our hospitals," Mr Hazzard said.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly warns of more Omicron cases in Australia but says it is too early to determine severity of strain
Canberra: Australia's chief medical officer predicts Omicron will overtake the Delta strain to become the more dominant variant in the world.
Professor Paul Kelly flagged more cases are expected to come into Australia with at least three of the country's nine Omicron cases infectious while in the community.
"I suspect within the few months, Omicron will be the new virus in the world," he said during a health press conference on Friday morning.
"There may well be more cases to come to Australia."
But early evidence suggested the new variant was more mild or the same as the current Delta strain causing a fourth wave in Europe.
The government is closely monitoring the situation across other nations and are in regular communication with South Africa as scientists and health officials collect more data and information on the variant.
Professor Kelly and his team of experts held a two hour meeting where they had a "wonderful exchange" with their South African colleagues who confirmed Omicron was now the most dominant variant.
"As a transmissible, they have no doubt that it is, it is definitely replacing Delta in South Africa as the main COVID-19 virus," he said.
"Secondly, is it severe? They have no real evidence at the moment of an increase in severity."
He stressed it was still "early days" but with cases almost doubling in South Africa from 4,300 to 8,500 in a 24 hour-period was a mix of low vaccination rates with less than 30 per cent of the country double dosed and Omicron rapidly spreading.
"They are seeing a rise in hospitalisations in three provinces, in Gauteng province, Pretoria and Johannesburg," Professor Kelly said.
"They are seeing a rise in hospitalisations there. But even hospitalisations they are seeing with the Omicron variant are not any more severe than in previous waves. I would stress it is very early days."
He added the government will take it "one step at a time" with concerns Omicron could already be circulating in the New South Wales community after three infectious cases visited a number of venues.
Another Omicron case detected in Sydney
Sydney: NSW Health has recorded 337 new cases of COVID-19, including one case of the Omicron variant in western Sydney, in the 24 hours to 8pm, Thursday.
The Omicron case is a student from Regents Park Christian School, where contact tracing is now underway. Authorities are concerned the virus may have been acquired in the community as the case has no overseas travel history.
As announced on Thursday, a traveller on flight SQ231 from Singapore, which arrived in Sydney last Sunday, has been infected with Omicron.
NSW Health is subsequently requesting anyone on that flight to immediately get their COVID-19 PCR test and isolate until they receive a negative result. They must also get a PCR test on day six (December 4) after arriving in NSW.
All travellers arriving in NSW who have been in South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini and Malawi during the 14-day period before their arrival in this state must enter hotel quarantine for 14 days, irrespective of their vaccination status.
Anyone who has arrived in NSW who has been in any of the eight African countries within the previous 14 days must immediately get tested and isolate for 14 days, and call NSW Health on 1800 943 553.
Any passengers arriving from overseas aged 18 and over who are not fully vaccinated should go directly into 14-day mandatory hotel quarantine.
Penalties for non-compliance with the isolation, testing and quarantine requirements have increased to $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for corporations.
Meanwhile across NSW, 94.6 per cent of people aged 16 and over have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 92.6 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Of the people aged 12 to 15, 81.3 per cent have received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 76.9 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Authorities say anyone who is unvaccinated should get their jabs as soon as possible. They can book into an NSW Health vaccination clinic or another provider through the COVID-19 vaccine clinic finder.
People are also reminded that if they have any COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how mild, they should get tested immediately and self-isolate until receiving a negative test result.
There are more than 450 testing locations in NSW, many open seven days a week.
Goulburn hospital delivers first-class care
Sydney: The Southern Tablelands community will benefit from a major upgrade of hospital services with the official opening of Goulburn Hospital’s clinical services building.
Premier Dominic Perrottet, Deputy Premier Paul Toole, Health Minister Brad Hazzard and MP for Goulburn Wendy Tuckerman marked the milestone, which is part of the $165 million Goulburn Hospital and Health Service redevelopment.
“We’re making record investments in our health system across our State to ensure that no matter where you live in NSW you will have access to the best healthcare services,” Mr Perrottet said.
“The Goulburn Hospital redevelopment will provide a major health boost for people in Southern NSW with this new clinical services building improving health outcomes and future-proofing health services for communities in the Southern Tablelands region.”
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the NSW Government was pushing ahead with a record $900 million investment in regional and rural health in 2021-22 to deliver new and upgraded infrastructure, enhanced services and more jobs across regional communities.
Minister Hazzard said the four-storey building brings state-of-the-art healthcare services together under one roof, providing seamless care in a modern health facility.
“With a new emergency department and intensive care unit and the latest digital theatres this purpose-built facility will greatly improve the hospital experience for patients, carers and staff,” Mr Hazzard said.
New SFS to kick off Matildas’ Cup campaign
Sydney: The Matildas will kick off their FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign at the brand new Sydney Football Stadium (SFS) in July 2023, after the match schedule was revealed by FIFA today.
Sydney will host more matches than any other host city, with seven games at the SFS and four at Stadium Australia, including a Semi Final and the Final.
Minister for Tourism Stuart Ayres said the fixture announcement is an exciting milestone on the road to the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.
“This is about putting the best sports and the best events in the best facilities and keeping Sydney the number one choice in Australia for sports fans. Hosting major events like this is crucial in creating jobs and boosting our visitor economy,” Mr Ayres said.
“This World Cup will take women’s sport to a whole new level. When the final kicks off in Sydney I have no doubt we would have hosted a tournament that changed women’s major events forever.”
Minister for Sport Natalie Ward said football lovers will get the chance to be part of the biggest and best moments of the tournament in Sydney, from start to finish.
“The atmosphere across the city is bound to be electric as we host matches from day one right through to the Final,” Mrs Ward said.
“Fans can soak up the atmosphere at the brand new SFS, enjoy a world-class FIFA Fan Fest and experience finals excitement at Stadium Australia.”
FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura said 32 teams will compete in 64 matches across Australia and New Zealand.
“The announcement of the match schedule today adds to the excitement around the tournament and we are looking forward to seeing the nine host cities and 10 stadiums that will set the stage for women’s football,” Ms Samoura said.
To see the full fixture, visit the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 website.
Class of 2021 conquer HSC exams
Sydney: The 2021 Higher School Certificate exams are officially over at 12:30 today, when 3,756 Food Technology students finish their final exam.
Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said this is a momentous day for the Class of 2021, who have shown incredible resilience and hard work to get to this point.
“Today officially marks the end of 13 years of schooling for 69,000 Year 12 students and I am incredibly happy to see them so triumphantly reach the finish line,” Ms Mitchell said.
“HSC students should be very proud of what they have achieved over the past two years. The resilience, focus and adaptability they have shown will serve them well in the next chapter of their life, whether that is university, vocational training, or employment.
“To safely deliver 400,000 individual exam sessions statewide with no disruption amidst a global pandemic is a huge success.
“I thank the school sectors, principals, teachers, school staff, exam supervisors and invigilators, students and their families for their engagement and adherence to the COVID-safe HSC exam guidelines."
Over the past four weeks, students sat 110 exams across 750 exam venues, with strict COVID-safe protocols in place.
Chief Executive Officer of the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) Paul Martin said the 2021 HSC was a huge success, with all exams going ahead safely even when a small number of schools closed due to COVID-19.
Marking is already underway, with results to be delivered via SMS and email on Monday 24 January.
Students can get their school assessment ranks from this afternoon via Students Online until 30 December.
Australia’s largest commercial tower tops out
Sydney: Walker Corporation’s 8 Parramatta Square has reached structural completion topping out at 225m high to become Western Sydney’s tallest tower.
Walker Corporation Executive Chairman Lang Walker AO said the tower will be a beacon of success to the people of Western Sydney.
“8 Parramatta Square is the jewel in the crown of our $3.2 billion urban transformation of Sydney’s second CBD,” Mr Walker said.
“It’s not only the tallest in Western Sydney, it’s the biggest too, with the largest Gross Floor Area of any commercial office building in Australia and in 2022 is set to be in the top 80 largest office buildings in the world.
“Parramatta Square has been a major urban transformation project which has exceeded in creating a world class CBD with the infrastructure and transport connections to match, cutting travel times for 40,000 workers.
“With 8 Parramatta Square, Walker has delivered its vision of a bold, inspiring and timeless architectural statement for Parramatta, seamlessly interlinked with trains and light rail, metro, buses, ferries and the nearby West Connex.
“3, 4, 6 & 8 Parramatta Square provide the same amount of net office space as almost four Chifley Towers.”
The 124,000 square metre 6&8 Parramatta Square has a 4 level basement and 55 floors plus plant and roof space.
It has reached maximum height in under 2 and a half years and boasts panoramic views to the Sydney CBD, Sydney Heads and across to the Blue Mountains.
Parramatta Square’s underground and above ground pedestrian connections linked to the railway station and the CBD and are surrounded world class restaurants. Approximately 40,000 people a day, will work at Parramatta Square from mid-2022.
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More homes and jobs in Sydney’s West
Sydney: More than 40 new homes will be delivered at Warwick Farm as part of the NSW Government’s ongoing commitment to social housing in Western Sydney.
Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey said the $16 million project at Mannix Parade will deliver 21 one-bedroom and 22 two-bedroom units.
“This project is one of 90 delivered by the NSW Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC) to replace ageing houses and under-utilised sites and re-develop them into small to medium-scale apartment buildings and duplexes,” Mrs Pavey said.
“At Warwick Farm we will transform two vacant properties into a modern, accessible, multi-storey residential building for social housing, which is close to transport and essential services.
“The construction itself will create 80 jobs providing income to local tradies and labourers, not to mention suppliers, who will spend it in their communities.”
The NSW Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC) is working to deliver more than 100 projects in Western and South-Western Sydney which would see 17,000 new homes built including 5,000 dedicated to social housing.
This project supports the NSW Government’s commitment to re-ignite the construction industry with plans for $6.7 billion worth of housing projects in Western Sydney.
“This pipeline which includes the renewal of social housing estates at Airds-Bradbury, Claymore and Bonnyrigg, and major mixed tenure renewal projects in construction at Lidcombe, Liverpool, Westmead and South Granville have the potential to support an estimated 33,000 construction jobs over the duration of their development,” Mrs Pavey said.