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Thirty new coronavirus cases in SA
South Australia has 30 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of people diagnosed with the virus in the state to 367, according to SA Health’s latest update provided this afternoon.
Of the 30 new cases, five are Qantas baggage handlers, bringing the total number of Adelaide Airport staff members who have tested positive to coronavirus to 11.
A further two people who were tested positive today are family members of the Qantas baggage handlers.
People who visited the Adelaide Airport terminal and car park in the past 14 days and who develop coronavirus symptoms are advised to get tested and self-quarantine for 14 days.
There are 107 people who were in contact with the Qantas baggage handlers who are now in self-quarantine.
SA Health says the first baggage handler became infected about the “first week of March”.
“Having (done) the cleaning and isolating that cluster we feel confident that the airport is able to continue its operations,” deputy chief public health officer Dr Michael Cusack said this afternoon.
“Qantas have adopted alternative arrangements to ensure that their customers are able to get their baggage in the airport.”
Cusack advised people who have recently visited to airport to clean their baggage with detergent and let it dry outdoors.
The Transport Workers Union said they are trying to find out what protections are in place for other workers that had contact with those infected.
The union slammed the airline’s preparedness to tackle the virus, claiming the way Qantas handled COVID-19 has left workers exposed to risks.
Today’s 30 new cases ranged in ages from a person in their teens through to a person in their 70s.
Cusack said no school needs to be closed because of the teenager.
There are currently six cases in intensive care, down from eight yesterday. They are all male and range in age from 52 to 77, with five in a critical condition, and one in a stable condition.
Four of the 30 new cases are linked to Ruby Princess, bringing that total to 78 and a total number of cruise ship cases in the state to 109.
Restrictions at Service SA centres
The State Government has “temporarily suspended” some functions provided by Service SA centres in order to follow social distancing rules.
The suspended services are:
- Practical Driving Assessments for medical reasons
- Rider Safe training and assessment courses
- Learner theory, hazard perception and boat licence testing, including theory tests for overseas licence transfers
- Non-essential transactions at centres, such as the issue of special (custom) number plates, issuing proof of age card, issue of an unregistered vehicle permit etc
- Training and assessment of applicants for a Motor Driving Instructors licence and for appointment as an Authorised Examiner.
The Government has also suspended the need for most people to attend a medical practitioner to complete a Certificate of Fitness to retain a driver’s licence.
SA boosts “contact tracing” workforce
The State Government will reallocate public servants to boost the workforce of the Communicable Disease Control Branch’s contact tracing team.
Premier Steven Marshall said today up to 150 staff would be immediately “recommissioned” from other public servant roles the team, while “up to another 150″ would be made ready if the caseload escalates.
“The CDCB has done a magnificent job and the State Liberal Government is intent on making sure they have the resources they need to track, isolate and stop the spread of the disease in the community,” he said.
“By extensive testing, diligent contact tracing and the whole community working as one through social distancing, washing our hands, avoiding non-essential outings and following the latest health advice we can slow the spread of this disease and save lives.”
Emergency access to medication
The State Government will allow people to access emergency supplies of “essential medicines” without a prescription.
Health Minister Stephen Wade said the access to medicine was essential during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The temporary provision means if patients are in urgent need and have not been able to access medical services or get to their doctor to receive their usual prescription, they can contact their pharmacist to discuss their options to get their essential medicines without a prescription,” he said.
“This will provide reassurance to citizens that they can get their medicines when they need them and help alleviate pressures on critical health and hospital services, allowing them to continue to provide essential health care.
“Pharmacists will be allowed to dispense different strengths of a product, such as two 20mg tablets in place of a 40mg tablet, or a different dose form of the same medicine, such as a capsule instead of a tablet.”
Interim Chief Pharmacist Naomi Burgess urged people not to purchase more medicine than they needed.
Homeless put up in city motels
The State Government has arranged emergency accommodation for 223 people, including rough sleepers and those without secure housing, as part of its response to limiting the spread of coronavirus.
While people are in emergency accommodation, they are supported by Street to Home, Hutt St and Baptist Care.
People are able to collect meals from Hutt St and Baptist Care as takeaways, but if people are unable collect them themselves, takeaway meals will be delivered to where people are staying.
Emergency accommodation is also available in country areas via the Homelessness Gateway freecall 1800 003 308.
The government says anyone who genuinely needs emergency accommodation during his pandemic can call this number.
Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink said maintaining good hygiene and social distancing was difficult for people experiencing homelessness, in particular rough sleepers.
“That’s why we’ve worked quickly to ensure some of our most vulnerable South Australians can have a roof over their heads so they can stay safe, maintain good hygiene practices and social distance that are vital to everyone’s health,” she said.
In addition to providing emergency accommodation to those who need it, we’re ensuring our most vulnerable have access to food through our service providers such as the Hutt St Centre and Baptist Care, as we know nutrition is a crucial part of staying healthy.
We will continue to ensure our most vulnerable have support and know where to turn to for help.”
Surgery limited in SA
“Surgery, treatment and procedures” in South Australia will be limited to emergencies, under a direction made yesterday by Police Commissioner Grant Stevens, who is also the state coordinator under the Emergency Management Act.
“The only surgical treatment that may be performed is emergency surgery and procedures that are required to prevent the loss of life, loss of limb or permanent disability,” says SA Health.
“All non-emergency and non-urgent surgeries, treatments and procedures will be cancelled from 11.59 pm Wednesday 1 April 2020.
“If the significant delay of a non-emergency procedure could increase the risk of loss of life, limb or permanent disability, then it may still be performed.”
Caravans risk becoming “cruise ships of the outback”
An influx of caravans into regional Australia has sparked grave concerns in country communities, with mayors calling on grey nomads and other holiday-makers to stay home and relieve pressure on towns under pressure during the pandemic.
Deputy Nationals leader David Littleproud said people must not seek refuge in country towns.
“Otherwise, these caravans could turn into the cruise ships of the outback,” he told ABC Radio National on Wednesday.
Littleproud said towns were reporting supermarket shelves being stripped by city-dwellers looking to escape urban centres as the virus spreads.
“You don’t have to be Agatha Christie in one of these towns to know why they’re there,” he said.
Emergency flights for Australian exports
The federal government will spend $110 million on flights to send fresh produce to China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates in a bid to help Australian farmers and fishers
Fisheries fees of $10 million will be waived, with a further $50 million added to a grants program to reimburse exporters for marketing costs.
Exports including lobster and abalone have taken massive hits as the global pandemic shuts down commercial air travel, with most air freight previously going out in passenger planes.
Fruit and vegetables, red meat and dairy products are among the other exports expected to benefit from the flights.
US death toll above China; Italy ‘plateaus’
The US death toll from the coronavirus has climbed past 3500, eclipsing China’s official count, as the deepening crisis in New York hit close to home for the governor when he disclosed that his brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, has become infected.
“But there’s a lesson in this,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said of his 49-year-old brother, now quarantined in his basement. “He’s an essential worker, a member of the press so he’s been out there. If you go out there, the chance that you get infected is very high.”
Elsewhere around the world, hard-hit Italy reported that the infection rate appears to be levelling off and new cases could start declining but that the crisis is far from over.
Spain, too, struggled to fend off the collapse of its hospital system.
Vladimir Putin’s Russia moved to crack down on quarantine violations and “fake news” about the outbreak.
And China edged closer to normal as stores in the original epicentre city of Wuhan began reopening.
Worldwide, more than 800,000 people have been infected and more than 40,000 people have died, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.
Italy and Spain accounted for half the deaths, while the US had about 3550 by midday, overtaking China’s official toll of about 3,300.
New York was the country’s deadliest hot spot, with about 1550 deaths statewide, the majority of them in New York City.
A Navy hospital ship with 1000 beds that docked in New York on Monday was expected to begin accepting non-coronavirus patients on Tuesday.
OFFICIAL SOURCES OF ADVICE AND INFORMATION
Local updates and resources
SA Health: www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/COVID2019
Mental health support line (8am to 8pm): 1800 632 753.
National advice and information
Australian Government Coronavirus information hotline: 1800 020 080
Government information via WhatsApp: click here
Australian Government travel advice: smartraveller.gov.au
Check your symptoms
Free, government-funded, health advice: healthdirect.gov.au
– Reporting by InDaily staff, AAP and Reuters
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