November 20, 2020 at 7:54 AM EST
Australia suffers its own ‘Pizzagate’ — with a side of coronavirus
By Edward Cavanough and David Crawshaw
Fearing a super-strain of the virus, officials in Australia’s fifth-largest city earlier this week ordered an extreme six-day shutdown of South Australia state — they even banned outdoor exercise and dog-walking — after detecting a cluster of cases apparently linked to a pizza shop in an Adelaide suburb.
The severe response was based on the account of a kitchen hand at a quarantine hotel, who told health workers he became infected after collecting a takeout meal from the restaurant, Woodville Pizza Bar, which was being investigated as a possible virus hot spot.
But on Friday, authorities dramatically reversed course after determining in a follow-up interview that the man had lied to contact tracers. The man was, in fact, not a patron but a pizza chef employed at the restaurant, alongside a security guard who had contracted the virus while working at a second quarantine hotel. Suddenly, the outbreak’s transmission chain was clearer.