In a warning to Australians about the importance of getting vaccinated, the government says a large majority of guests at a recent birthday party in New South Wales got infected with Covid – while those who had their jabs remained safe.
The party that took place on 19 June in West Hoxton, Sydney has been dubbed a super-spreader event after testing showed 24 unvaccinated guests contracted the Delta variant of the virus.
Australia still has low rates of vaccination, with only about 5 per cent of the population fully protected with two doses. The party was attended by six healthcare workers – all of whom were fully vaccinated – who did not become infected.
One other guest – a care worker who was partially vaccinated – also tested negative for the virus.
Brad Hazzard, the health minister for New South Wales state, told reporters the incident demonstrates “just how important vaccinations are”.
The care worker was “elderly and despite only having received one dose by the time of the party, did not contract Covid-19,” according to Mr Hazzard.
He said that the situation was still “unfolding” and that “early and strong indication from that party is that if you’re vaccinated you are much more likely to not be infected with Covid-19.”
Dr Kerry Chant, the state’s chief health officer, told 7 News that an asymptomatic guest unknowingly spread the virus throughout the party. She added that had the six guests not been vaccinated, it’s possible that the infection rate at the party could have been 100 per cent.
An additional seven cases have been linked to this party, according to news channel ABC.
Dr Chant said the infected guests were isolated. “We got to this group very quickly.” He added that they likely had only 24 hours during which they could have spread the virus in the community.
In an attempt to curb the spread, New South Wales is under a stay-at-home order. The 31 cases linked to the birthday party are just one cluster in the outbreak affecting Sydney. There are currently 170 active cases in the state.
Australia was among the best in the world in controlling the pandemic within its borders in the first year of the outbreak, but was later criticised for not acquiring vaccines quickly. The highly contagious Delta variant is driving the country’s recent outbreak, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.
There have been fewer than 31,000 cases and 910 deaths across the country.
WGN TV reported that in a bid to jumpstart vaccination numbers, the government has agreed to offer the AstraZeneca vaccine.
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