Brad Hazzard has tested positive for Covid-19 just hours after visiting a new children’s ward at Sydney’s Blacktown Hospital.
The NSW health minister had no virus symptoms on Tuesday but undertook a RAT as a precaution after learning he had been in contact with an infected colleague.
The RAT returned a negative result, but Mr Hazzard later took a PCR test – known to be much more effective – which revealed a positive result.
Hours earlier, he had opened the new 12-bed pediatric ward which he toured while wearing a surgical face mask – before removing it to cut the ribbon close to a young patient’s face.
He also gave a speech to cameras and staff, also while not wearing a mask.
Face masks are required in NSW public hospitals and private health facilities for all people over the age of 12.
Brad Hazzard has tested positive for Covid-19 just hours after visiting a new children’s ward at Sydney’s Blacktown Hospital (pictured)
The NSW health minister opened the new pediatric ward which he toured while wearing a surgical face mask – before removing it to cut the ribbon close to a young patient’s face
WHAT ARE THE RULES FOR FACE MASKS IN HOSPITALS IN NSW?
Visitors to hospitals are welcome but must wear a mask before entering and while inside the facility.
Children aged 12 and under are not required to wear masks.
All visitors will be screened on entry and must follow the advice of healthcare staff at all times.
Source: NSW Health
Mr Hazzard developed minor flu-like symptoms overnight, and is now in isolation and receiving advice from doctors at the Northern Sydney Public Health Unit.
The minister is fully vaccinated and will continue to attend work meetings virtually.
His positive test has overshadowed the unveiling of the colourful pediatric ward complete with two negative pressure rooms to manage patients in isolation with Covid.
The development is part of a $700 million upgrade to Blacktown and Mt Druitt hospitals.
Mr Hazzard said the ward will treat babies through to 16-year-olds, suffering conditions like gastroenteritis, asthma, bronchiolitis, cellulitis and croup and will also be kitted out for complex surgeries.
As part of the design, brightly coloured artworks featuring landmarks from the local area are sprawled across the walls of the facility to make young patients ‘feel at home’ during such a stressful time.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard also gave a speech to cameras and staff, while not wearing a mask
His positive infection comes just a day after Mr Hazzard (pictured in the Blacktown Paediatric Ward) urged NSW residents to report their positive Covid results, warning the actual daily cases may be ‘at least 50 per cent higher’ than recorded
Just a day after Mr Hazzard urged NSW residents to report their positive Covid results, warning the actual daily cases may be ‘at least 50 per cent higher’ than recorded.
The state recorded another 24,151 Covid cases and 15 deaths on Wednesday, with infections surging thanks to the BA.2 variant.
Those who test positive on a rapid antigen test in the state are required to report their results online, but the health minister said many with milder symptoms weren’t bothering to do so.
‘We think (today’s cases are) a big underestimate because many people are, it would appear, not actually reporting the positive cases,’ Mr Hazzard said.
‘They may have symptoms that are very mild, and they just don’t think it’s necessary.
‘We’d like them to report it because it helps us to track the Covid cases through our community.’
Mr Hazzard said NSW virus experts believed there were actually at least 50 per cent more cases than what was reported each day.
Brad Hazzard gets a tour of the new Blacktown Paediatric Ward by health care staff
The minister (pictured at the Blacktown Paediatric Ward) is fully vaccinated and will continue to attend work meetings virtually
On Tuesday there were 19,143 infections with 15,504 on Monday, 16,742 on Sunday and a total of 20,297 cases on Saturday.
However, experts believe the BA.2 wave has mostly peaked in NSW and cases will soon start falling again.
UNSW’s School of Population Health associate professor James Wood data from the EpiNow2 system indicated that outside the Hunter region and northern parts of the state, the spread of the variant had peaked.
‘However, still expect hospitalisations and deaths to rise because case age distribution has changed with many more infections now in people aged over 65,’ he tweeted.
‘Also saw this pattern in January with BA.1 but peaks in severity should be significantly lower this time due to boosters and BA.1 infections.’