A glaring loophole in national coronavirus guidelines allowed an infected Woolworths worker to leave hotel quarantine in Melbourne without being retested for the disease.
The man tested positive for coronavirus when he arrived in Melbourne from Bangladesh on June 11 before spending two weeks in hotel quarantine.
But after the 14 days were over, he was allowed to leave on June 26 without being retested for the disease.
National coronavirus guidelines have no requirement for infected people to return a negative result before being allowed to leave quarantine.
The man flew back to Sydney and immediately began working at Woolworths in the inner-west suburb of Balmain before testing positive again on Wednesday.
A Balmain Woolworths staffer infected with COVID-19 worked two shifts before testing positive for a second time. A loophole in national guidelines allowed him to leave hotel quarantine without being retested
NSW Chief Medical Officer Kerry Chant said mandatory retesting is not in place.
‘We do not necessarily test everyone to get them for clearance,’ Ms Chant said, according to ABC News.
‘We know that people can have remnants of the virus for eight weeks, the virus is dead, not infectious.’
Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said Victorian authorities followed national guidelines but admitted the lack of retesting to clear infected people was a problem.
‘That’s (retesting is) an emerging issue that we need to get on top of, clearly,’ Professor Kelly said on 7:30 on Wednesday night.
‘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.’
NSW Chief Medical Officer Kerry Chant (pictured) said: ‘We do not necessarily test everyone to get them for clearance.’
News of a testing loophole in national guidelines comes after Woolworths customers were urged to get tested for coronavirus.
Shoppers who are displaying symptoms of the virus and visited Balmain Woolworths on June 27 and June 28 should get tested, NSW Health said.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said anyone who visited the store on days the man worked should be tested if they had any flu or cold-like symptoms, however mild.
‘NSW Health is now acting on a precautionary basis. Balmain residents should be on alert for any symptoms and come forward and get tested,’ Mr Hazzard said.
‘In NSW, we have always taken a strong position on hotel quarantine, processing more than 30,000 returning travellers since March 29.’
Recently arrived overseas travellers arrive at Crown Promenade Hotel for two weeks of hotel quarantine. The infected Woolworths worker was allowed to leave quarantine without being retested, which is surprisingly not required required by national guidelines
Alarming footage has also emerged of elderly COVID-19 susceptible shoppers using the self-service checkouts at Woolworths Balmain.
While there is no suggestion the women were at risk of contracting COVID-19, the footage confirms what Ms Berejiklian is concerned about – Australians getting back to normal life, doing their groceries – and thinking they can no longer get the virus.
The decision to keep the store open has outraged locals, with one woman taking to a popular Facebook group and telling others she had called Woolworths to complain.
‘I have just spoken to Woolworths head office who told me that the store was closed and when I assured them it wasn’t she checked the details,’ one woman wrote.
‘I was then told the store was still open because it had been deep cleaned last night so it could remain open.
‘My argument was that if this happened in a school it would be closed for two days while it was deep cleaned. Why would this not happen at a grocery store?’
A woman (left) uses a self-service checkout at Balmain Woolworths while specialist cleaners and management (right) discuss how to deep clean the store
Balmain Woolworths was deep cleaned on Wednesday night and 50 of its workers are in isolation after it emerged one worker was infected.
The man contracted COVID-19 in Bangladesh and tested positive when he arrived in Melbourne before going into hotel quarantine from June 11 to June 26.
He was then allowed to leave the hotel and fly back to Sydney on Jetstar Flight JQ510 on Friday, June 26.
After landing in Sydney, the man worked at the Balmain Woolworths that weekend.
When he started to show COVID-19 symptoms again he underwent another test which returned a positive result on Wednesday.
Customers who shopped at the Woolworths on June 27 and June 28 and any nearby residents who feel unwell are being urged to get tested for coronavirus (pictured is a nurse conducting throat swab test on a patient in Sydney)