Number of infected NSW Ambulance paramedics expected to rise to three as Sydney coronavirus outbreak continues

The Australian, 16 July 2021

The coronavirus has penetrated the NSW Ambulance service as Sydney struggles to contain an outbreak of the Delta strain.

After a paramedic was confirmed infected on Thursday, NCA NewsWire understands two more paramedics will be announced as part of Friday’s coronavirus numbers.

The Health Services Union has been told the first paramedic to test positive did not work while infectious, but it’s unclear whether the other two had been to work.

NSW Ambulance has been working alongside the health department to try to identify other staff and patients who may have come into contact with positive cases.

Up to 60 people may end up becoming considered either close or casual contacts of the paramedics, according to the HSU.

A spokesman for the ambulance service said the paramedic who was first confirmed as infected had worked in southwest Sydney, but that transmission was believed to have occurred in the community rather than at work.

“NSW Ambulance is investigating reports of further positive cases in paramedics who had no contact with the confirmed case,” the spokesman said on Thursday evening.

“Urgent contact tracing is under way.”

Top officials from NSW Health, NSW Ambulance and the HSU met on Friday morning to discuss the unfolding situation.

NSW Health deputy secretary for people, culture and governance Phil Minns, NSW Ambulance chief executive Dominic Morgan, and HSU secretary Gerard Hayes attended the meeting.

NSW Ambulance said facilities would undergo “enhanced cleaning” twice daily on top of ordinary station and vehicle cleaning.

The service also said its staff were required to wear eye protection, face masks, gowns and gloves whenever they come into contact with patients in Greater Sydney.

“NSW Ambulance paramedics have been receiving vaccinations since February 2021, when they first became eligible as part of phase 1a of the rollout,” the spokesman said.

“The significant majority of paramedics in southwest Sydney who expressed an interest in being vaccinated are now fully vaccinated, and more staff are being vaccinated every day.

“An additional expression of interest has been released in the last few weeks to encourage further take up of vaccinations among eligible staff.”