COVID guard goes out and about after defying isolation order

 

A security guard working at Sydney's Marriott Hotel on quarantine duty went to a string of shops including Woolworths and K-mart while waiting for a COVID-19 test result, which later proved to be positive.

Police said Asad Niaz, 22, was told to have a mandatory test on Thursday afternoon after a fellow security guard from the same company was found to have contracted the potentially deadly disease from an American tourist in quarantine at the Circular Quay hotel.

Both guards are employed by Unified security, the same firm involved in the Victorian hotel debacle that led to the second wave of COVID-19 in that state.

It comes as NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned the state is "not out of the woods yet" as three new cases were detected yesterday.

 

The Marriott Hotel where a security guard on quarantine duty disobeyed orders before testing positive to COVID-19. Picture: Richard Dobson
The Marriott Hotel where a security guard on quarantine duty disobeyed orders before testing positive to COVID-19. Picture: Richard Dobson

 

Niaz was tested in the CBD at 5pm on Thursday and ordered to self-isolate until he received his results the next day.

Instead, the Campsie man went straight to Westfield Burwood in Sydney's inner-west where it's understood he went shopping for groceries and a blanket.

The next morning, he again breached isolation orders by going to the NSW Service Centre in Burwood to renew his licence.

On Friday afternoon he was contacted by NSW Health who asked him to go to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital as his results were inconclusive and he needed to be retested.

On Saturday morning he was confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 and presented to RPA. He was then transferred to a separate health facility where he will stay for the remainder of his quarantine period.

 

Security guard Asad Niaz visited Burwood Westfield.
Security guard Asad Niaz visited Burwood Westfield.

 

Police said during questioning by contact tracers Niaz admitted he did not follow the health official's orders to self-isolate on the Thursday evening or Friday morning.

On Sunday, NSW Police issued Niaz with two infringement notices each carrying a penalty of $1000. He is not facing any charges.

Public health alerts have now been issued for Westfield Burwood and the Service NSW centre in the same suburb.

NSW Health is now awaiting results of genomic testing to see if the man's case is linked to that of the original security guard who testeed positive last week.

Police spent hours going through CCTV footage from the Marriott Hotel to make sure the first guard had not breached any safety protocols while he was working.

"Further testing has indicated his level of infectiousness at that time was very low and it is unlikely we are going to be able to isolate any virus from his samples given that low level of infectiousness," NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant said on Monday.

 

Niaz was a security guard from Unified Australia group, the same firm involved in the Victorian hotel debacle.
Niaz was a security guard from Unified Australia group, the same firm involved in the Victorian hotel debacle.

 

Unified and the state government did not respond to requests for comment on how security guards working in hotel quarantine are trained in PPE and infection control.

NSW Police said the infection control measures in place in hotels were "robust".

"NSW Health has robust infection control measures in place in all quarantine facilities … regular audits are undertaken of infection control practices and police, security and other staff on site are guided in the proper use of personal protective equipment by clinical staff at the hotels," a spokeswoman said.

NSW Labor yesterday said the government should replace private security firms with police and ADF officers in hotel quarantine.

"Some of the most high risk environments need to be patrolled and secured by our very best," Labor's health spokesman Ryan Park said.

"If you can't guarantee that private security guards can control these very, very important quarantine arrangements, then it's time the NSW Police and the ADF get more involved."

 

Premier Gladys Berejiklian says NSW is not out of the woods yet. Picture: Gaye Gerard
Premier Gladys Berejiklian says NSW is not out of the woods yet. Picture: Gaye Gerard

 

He blamed the government for not ensuring the security guard who breached self isolation requirements was following the rules.

"We cannot continue to see breaches and problems happening with our last line of defence," he said.

NSW recorded three new COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday with just one acquired locally - a contact of a previous case.

The close contact has been in isolation during their infectious period.

"NSW has fared the past six or seven weeks as best as we can but of course it's been an enormous community effort," Ms Berejiklian said.

"We're at the tail end of what we envisaged would be a particularly critical period, but we're certainly not out of the woods."

 

Originally published as COVID guard goes out and about after defying isolation order