Reporter: Have we been able to definitely link this limousine driver who health authorities believe is the original source of the outbreak? Have we been able to definitely link this person to the air crew or whoever they were transporting?
Dr Chant: No, we have not been able to definitely link this and we are unlikely to do so.
“Air crew that come in, that they are transported to quarantine hotels and we test the air crew on coming in.
“Obviously air crew depart, and when I say air crew, it’s not just domestic, but freight.
“And New South Wales has over 3,000 air crew coming in every week so, it’s actually quite a large proportion and they’re often on rapid turnarounds and they have requirements under CASA aircraft things around periods when they can’t be contacted.
“So they go to the quarantine hotel. We test them and not with the saliva test.
“We use the most sensitive test which is the nose and throat swab, and then they… If they are then designated as close contacts, in some cases, we prevent them from leaving. So those are the standard precautions.
“So because of that, if for instance, a flight member stayed for three days and then departed, or as I said, what your status is in the morning may not be your status in the afternoon.
“So what we are thinking of is that some of the flight crew have become positive.
“Now, we have reached out to the companies that this gentleman was involved in transporting the flight crew for and asked them whether they’ve had any people diagnosed with COVID.
“But as you know, our situation in Australia is fairly unique. We try and find and diagnose every single case.
“That is not the setting in many other countries. So, there is a chance that this person will never recognise that they had COVID.
“They might have just put it down to a mild sore throat.
“I don’t think in any other country, the messaging around a scratchy, itchy throat, deserves a swab is the same.
“And so, because of that reason, we therefore can only hypothesise that that is the most likely route.
“We know that the strain is similar to strains that have been uploaded in the US but as we know, these strains move around.
“So we can’t be more definite than that, and that’s the epidemiological aspect of the investigation.