Regional communities are on edge after being visited by a road-tripping teen while he was unknowingly infected with COVID-19
Regional communities are on edge after being visited by a road-tripping teen while he was unknowingly infected with COVID-19

Disastrous fallout from infected teen’s trip

The owners of a cafe in Orange in western New South Wales have described the "devastating" consequences of their venue's unexpected exposure to coronavirus.

A slew of venues in across the state were hit with urgent COVID-19 warnings yesterday after it emerged an 18-year-old man unknowingly infected had visited while on a road trip.

The young man contracted the virus from the BWS bottle shop in Berala, the source of a worrying and rapidly growing cluster, on Christmas Eve, authorities believe.

He then set off for a camping trip with mates.

One of the venues now on high alert is Birdie Noshery cafe, which is co-owned by Leah Morphett and Simonn Hawke.

When the phone call from NSW Health came in on Tuesday morning, Ms Morphett answered.

"She beckoned me over, and I could see she was tearing up on the phone. I knew something was wrong," Ms Hawke told The Australian.

RELATED: Follow our latest coronavirus updates

 

 

The cafe employs about 24 people, half of whom have been "wiped out" for the next two weeks as they need to isolate.

"We've worked so hard to make the business safe, so this is just so devastating for us," Ms Hawke said. "We opened last year and we've only just hit our stride, so this is a big financial blow."

Ms Morphett said she's still crying about the crushing blow that's been delivered to her business.

"My mind just kicked into damage control. We have a lot of staff and a lot of customers to think about, the whole community of Orange."

Customers of Birdie Noshery flooded their social media with support, saying their precautions had been 100 per cent.

"Thank you for all the COVID precautions you've taken since you've opened up to now - as much as nobody wants something like this to happen, I'm sure it's made a world of difference in keeping our community safe at this time. We'll be back to visit when you reopen but in the meantime look after yourselves, stay safe Birdie's crew," one woman wrote.

RELATED: Two reasons NSW may be facing 'explosive outbreak'

 

Previously COVID-free communities in regional NSW are now on high alert. Picture: Ian Currie
Previously COVID-free communities in regional NSW are now on high alert. Picture: Ian Currie

 

Orange Mayor Reg Kidd said people in his area were being vigilant and venues had been very stringent with the coronavirus rules.

"I think in regional NSW we abide by the rules a little bit better than they do in the city areas, to be quite frank," he told the ABC.

NSW Health has advised anyone who attended the following venues at the listed times is a close contact and must get tested immediately and isolate for 14 days, regardless of the result:

- Gourmet Cribtin, 305 Argent St, Broken Hill on Saturday, January 2 between 10:40am and 11:20am.

- Birdie Noshery and Drinking establishment, 120-122 Summer St, Orange on Sunday, January 3 between 12:30pm and 2pm.

 

 

If you have attended the following venues at the listed times, you are a casual contact and must immediately get tested and isolate until a negative result is received, and continue to monitor for symptoms/get tested if they arise:

- Nyngan Riverside Tourist Park, Barrier Hwy and Mitchell Hwy, Nyngan from Saturday, January 2 to Sunday, January 3.

If you have attended the following service stations, you must monitor for symptoms and if they appear, get tested immediately and isolate until a negative result is received:

- Broken Hill Shell, 164 Williams St, Broken Hill on Saturday, January 2 between 10:52am and 10:55am.

- Nyngan BP, 180 Mitchell Hwy, Nyngan on Sunday, January 3 between 9:10am and 9:13am.

 

NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant praised the teen and stressed he did nothing wrong. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard
NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant praised the teen and stressed he did nothing wrong. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

 

"We're urging people in Orange, Nyngan, and Broken Hill to be tested. Clinics will be set up in due course," acting Premier John Barilaro said yesterday.

Authorities have stressed the young man did nothing wrong and have praised him for coming forward when he first experienced very mild symptoms, described as a very slight sniffily nose.

NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant thanked the teenager for doing "the right thing".

"Can I thank this individual. They got a text from us, saying you had been in that BWS on the 24th. Woke up, had a little bit of a run nose just yesterday. And went out and got a test and did the right thing," Dr Chant said.

"This gentleman was totally unaware of the issues, acted promptly on our text message and thank you so much."

Originally published as Disastrous fallout from infected teen's trip


Research reveals negative impacts of COVID on mental health

Premium Content Research reveals negative impacts of COVID on mental health

A researcher from the University of Southern Queensland has identified significant...

Wide Bay Burnett welcomes new regional doctors

Premium Content Wide Bay Burnett welcomes new regional doctors

Wide Bay will see 15 budding General Practitioners placed across the region, with...

‘Selfish’: Man calls partner nearly 400 times from prison

Premium Content ‘Selfish’: Man calls partner nearly 400 times from prison

‘You’re entirely self-centred’: A magistrate berated a South Burnett man after he...