Seven church attendees test positive to coronavirus

Seven people who attended a church service in Sydney's north have tested positive to COVID-19, pushing the NSW total virus infections to 436.

The parishioners all attended at Church of Christ service at Ryde Civic Centre on March 8.

NSW Health have asked the other 300 attendees to monitor themselves for symptoms which include a sore throat, shortness of breath, fever, coughing and fatigue.

William Thorne, an evangelist at the church, is one of the confirmed cases, he said in a YouTube video. Mr Thorne said he suspected his children may also have COVID-19. But he asked people "not to panic".

"We're doing ell, we're doing totally fine, our symptoms are every mild but wee are cooped up here at home.

He urged parishioners to practice social distancing and said the churches would be "virtual" going forward.

 

Initially four people presented with symptoms but that number was updated to seven today by the state health department.

"Your risk of COVID-19 is slightly increased," Chief Medical Officer Dr Kerry Chant told reporters on Friday, of the people who attended the service.

 

"I can confirm that we have contacted all of the close contacts of the confirmed cases that attended that service.

"But given the fact that, in such a big service of around 300 people, it's hard to absolutely exclude who's contacted who.

"We are wanting to put the whole group of people that attended that service on notice."

Sydney Church of Christ took to Facebook to inform the congregation to "stay safe and healthy", refer to NSW Health and to reach out to Bible Talk Group Leaders for any concern.

In a statement, Ryde Council said NSW Health told them there was an "extremely low risk" of infection for all other events held at the hall following the service on Sunday March 8.

 

The Ryde Civic Centre, where a Sydney Church of Christ service was held that resulted in seven coronavirus infections. Picture: AAP Image/Angelo Velardo
The Ryde Civic Centre, where a Sydney Church of Christ service was held that resulted in seven coronavirus infections. Picture: AAP Image/Angelo Velardo

"The Ryde Civic Hall undergoes regular cleaning after each hire of the venue including disinfecting doors and handrails and will undergo a further deep clean, which will include stringent infection control procedures," the statement read.

 

 

The Sydney Church of Christ is popular with younger parishioners and hold regular "teen devotion" events. Its March 8 service was held to coincide with International Womens Day according to the organisation's website.

No other events were held at Ryde Civic Hall on March 8 when the church service took place.

The news of the new COVID-19 cases came after Prime Minister Scott Morrison banned non-essential indoor gatherings of over 100 people to stop the spread of the virus within Australia.

Schools, universities, airports, public transport, supermarkets and many workplaces are exempt from the ban, but Mr Morrison said religious gatherings must comply with the new measures.

If you have any symptoms and attended the service contact The National coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080.

Originally published as Seven infections from one Sydney church



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