Uber drivers relocating to Newcastle and Hunter from Greater Sydney prompt warning from public health official Dr David Durrheim

Wrong way: Hunter public health officials are aware of some Uber drivers from Sydney relocating to the Hunter after their business was
Wrong way: Hunter public health officials are aware of some Uber drivers from Sydney relocating to the Hunter after their business was "curtailed" by lockdown. Picture: Marina Neil

UBER drivers whose business has been "curtailed" in Greater Sydney have been relocating to the Hunter, prompting concerns they could be bringing COVID-19 with them.

Dr David Durrheim said the Hunter's public health team had referred complaints to Crime Stoppers relating to Uber drivers and open house attendees from Greater Sydney who may not have returned to their own residence directly afterwards.

The Hunter New England Health public health controller said people from Greater Sydney could still use "reasonable excuse" to come here for open house inspections.

While ordinarily, "no one likes a dobber", Dr Durrheim warned the threat of the COVID-19 Delta variant to the community was just cause for raising the alert should someone be suspected of flouting the rules.

"We all owe it to vulnerable folks in our community, our family and friends, to make sure they don't get infected because somebody is not doing the right thing," Dr Durrheim said.

"There is an onus on agents and on all of us. If we are concerned that someone may be in the local community who is from Greater Sydney who doesn't have an urgent reason to be there, it's a good idea to give Crime Stoppers a call. If people have been to an open house and then go to one of our restaurants, dob them in."

Dr Durrheim said the community had been "brilliant" in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic to date.

But the transmissibility of the Delta variant of the virus was 60 to 70 per cent greater than the strains we had previously encountered.

"Without the stringent movement measures, it is unlikely that contact tracing alone could get us on top of this current outbreak," he said.

Both of the latest COVID exposure sites in the Hunter were both linked to removalists travelling from locked-down Sydney.

"The other thing we have seen - which is really perplexing - is that Uber drivers whose business has been curtailed in Greater Sydney because of COVID have relocated to the Hunter region," Dr Durrheim said.

"We are not sure at what scale. But there are probably others that are still unfortunately leaving Greater Sydney and putting our community at risk.

"But anybody who is offering us a service that we don't know - check if they are from Greater Sydney or not.

"If they are from Greater Sydney, it's time to call Crime Stoppers."

Dr Durrheim said the amount of movement around the state - particularly into the regions - should be "ceased" where possible.

"Clearly there are urgent reasons for people to travel, such as the delivery of supplies," he said.

"But there are ways of doing that in a contact-less way, so there doesn't need to be any contact between the driver and the person receiving the product.

"There are a lot of things that are not emergencies that we should put on hold until we get a hold of this situation."

This story 'Are you from Sydney?': Hunter health flags Uber driver relocation concern first appeared on Newcastle Herald.