Supercluster outbreaks linked at last
New genomic sequencing has linked coronavirus cases at two Thai Rock restaurants in NSW, one in Wetherill Park and one in Potts Point, despite the eateries being 32km away from each other.
Health authorities have believed the two were linked for weeks and finally have the science to back it up.
A spokeswoman for NSW Health said genetic sequencing of the virus for cases from the two restaurants proves they were linked - but there was still one major issue.
"It is unknown which cases link the two venues and this is under investigation," she said.
The original source of the cluster, which is now linked to 153 cases, is also still under investigation.
The cluster was first announced on July 17, three days after a female worker in her 30s began developing symptoms and got tested.
A warning was sent to diners who had visited the restaurant on July 9, 10, 11, 12 and 14, and all employees who had contact with the woman were instructed to get tested and isolate.
In the weeks following, the virus spread like wildfire and was linked to five other community clusters across south west and western Sydney.
On July 22, a case with no known source was linked to the Thai Rock Restaurant in Potts Point, where the patient had dined on July 17.
Less than a week later, a staff member at the Apollo Restaurant in Potts Point was diagnosed with coronavirus, also with no known exposure.
A media blitz calling for testing of staff and patrons of both restaurants led to contact tracers finding a couple who had eaten at Thai Rock in Potts Point on July 17 and the Apollo on July 22 - linking the cases.
Since the supercluster began, cases have been linked to funeral gatherings, an under-5s football game, and Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral in Harris Park.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she remained deeply concerned about south west and west of Sydney, as there had been multiple cases almost every day with no known source, leading authorities to believe there is a yet-to-be-detected strain travelling through the area.
She said there were cases nearly every day from residents of the area who had no known source and more than a dozen that were still under investigation weeks later.
"These (cases) are part of the same strain but they don't have a confirmed source as to where the virus was acquired," she said.
"For that reason, we are really encouraging people in southwest and western Sydney to come forward and get tested."
Originally published as Supercluster: Thai Rock outbreaks linked