Bondi Backpacker Who Got Coronavirus At Beach Party Warns People To Stay Home
Florencia Barreiro and 10 friends have tested positive for coronavirus after attending a party in Bondi with hundreds of people, the Argentinian told 10 daily.
The 24-year-old said up to 200 Australians and backpackers may have been at the party on Bondi Beach two weeks ago.
The party was held before Australia implemented its ban on non-essential services and two days after the country banned mass gatherings of more than 500 people.
"We were not worried. We were unconscious of it, as people still are now I guess. We saw it as something distant from us. Nobody was mentioning it anywhere," Barreiro told 10 daily.
"I started to realise the situation three days after the party."
Pictures of a crowded Bondi Beach last weekend, with swimmers not adhering to social distancing guidelines, spurred stricter federal and state rules on social gatherings, and saw many beaches in Sydney's eastern suburbs closed.
While most of her friends showed no symptoms, Barreiro says she had a congested nose and body aches.
"I started feeling really weak [and had] body pain and headaches. But I never got a temperature nor sore throat," she said.
I knew some people from my circle that were positive, and as soon as I started feeling weird, I decided to take the test.
The hospitality worker -- who lives with 12 other backpackers -- said she was told on Monday by Prince Wales Hospital in Randwick that she has COVID-19.
The NSW government made immediate plans to put Barreiro and her friend, who also tested positive, in social housing.
She's now holed up in a hotel for two weeks, and says nine other friends -- also backpackers, from Argentina and Chile -- are also infected.
Barreiro said many of her friends are worried about how they'll pay the bills during their time in quarantine, as they do not have paid leave and are ineligible for welfare payments.
"It's really expensive to live here in Australia," she said.
The Argentinean said compared to her home country, Australia's policies around COVID-19 have been inconsistent.
Despite having far fewer coronavirus cases than Australia, Argentina is currently under a full lockdown and all schools are closed.
The country has just 301 COVID-19 cases and a death toll of four.
"Here [in Australia] there is so much inconsistency. The bars continued to be open and full of people. On Friday, we passed by Bondi Beach on the way to work and saw hundreds of people," Barreiro said.
It scared me and made me feel anxious.
Barreiro first arrived in Australia in December and despite her most recent health struggles, she plans to stay for another year.
"I'm feeling a lot better and my family is alert, but not worried. They still call me every day," she said.
The backpacker said her diagnosis made her realise how "worrying" the situation could become if people in Australia don't heed health warnings.
"I want people to realise how if we don't stay at home, we could end up in the same situation as Italy," she claimed.
Authorities have urged Australians to comply with social distancing warnings, and to stay home as much as possible. Those who feel unwell with flu-like symptoms are asked to ring their GPs before attending.
"It's not just to take care of yourself but others as well. Please stay home!" Barreiro said.
10 daily has contacted NSW Health for comment.
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