A dozen people were infected with COVID-19 at a western Sydney church last year through airborne transmission, with evidence suggesting a chorister spread virus particles up to 14 metres. Source: Sydney Morning Herald.
There were 24 people in the Our Lady of Lebanon cluster by mid-August, including household contacts, after the virus was transmitted over three days of church services the previous month.
The transmission event resulted in one death: Jamilie Joseph, an 80-year-old grandmother and regular parishioner at the Harris Park church.
An analysis of how the virus spread, conducted by Western Sydney Local Health District and made available this week, concluded attendees caught COVID-19 through airborne spread from a man who was singing at the services.
The man, who was asymptomatic after attending a restaurant soon to be uncovered as an exposure site, did not give the virus to the 10 other choristers standing beside him, only to people who were all sitting on one side of the church.
He performed at four services across three days while in a choir loft 3.5 metres above the congregation.
Video recordings of the services analysed by the researchers showed the man did not touch any areas also touched by attendees who later tested positive.
Dr Stephen Corbett, co-author of the study, said the unique shape of the church, the act of singing and the fact that the man was in his most infectious period – the days immediately before symptom onset – all contributed to the spread.
Virus spread through air at western Sydney church, analysis concludes (By Mary Ward, Sydney Morning Herald)