Spectators and workers who attended last weekend’s Bathurst 1000 have been warned that they may have been exposed to COVID-19 and advised to monitor for symptoms after the virus was detected in samples of the town’s sewerage.
New South Wales Health has issued the advice to all attendees as well as visitors to the area and is urging anyone with even minor symptoms to get tested immediately and self-isolate.
It’s not known if the virus remnants found in waste water originated from the event and one of the 4000 daily visitors, or a member of the township’s 37,000 population, but NSW Health is asking anyone who has visited the region to be on the lookout for a runny nose or scratchy throat, cough, tiredness or fever.
This year’s event was capped at about 6.0 percent of the usual Mount Panorama turnout amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. If the trace sample originated with a spectator or worker, the drastically reduced crowd may have avoided a significant hotspot of new cases.
Parts of the circuit typically inundated with spectators were off limits this year
Following confirmation of the relatively tiny crowd limit this year, Bathurst 1000 organisers said they were “disappointed” at the strict cap, but may well be breathing a sigh of relief after the discovery.
“Whilst we are disappointed that we can’t have a full crowd at Bathurst, we’re delighted to offer even limited attendance," said Supercars CEO Sean Seamer in a statement.
NSW Health is now investigating the movements of known cases to establish if infected persons attended the race or general area, including cases that are no longer considered active.
“NSW Health is urgently undertaking investigations, which include reviewing lists of all those known to have had the virus who attended or worked at the race,” it said in a statement issued on Wednesday night.
The wastewater testing strategy was introduced in NSW in July this year and is a highly sensitive way of tracing where the virus has been by looking for minute molecular markers, but there is no evidence the virus is spread via sewerage networks.
News of a potential outbreak in Bathurst comes as the state is preparing to ease restrictions and allow more group gatherings, but authorities will be monitoring the recent developments nervously.