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COVID-19 shock: first new case in almost three weeks

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UPDATED | South Australia has recorded its first new coronavirus case in 19 days – and only its second since April 22.

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Chief medical officer Professor Nicola Spurrier and Health Minister Stephen Wade today fronted media to confirm the shock case – which comes after Premier Steven Marshall declared a major loosening of COVID-19-enforced restrictions, citing in part SA’s good results in maintaining a record of no active coronavirus cases since May 15.

The new case is a woman in her 50s who arrived in SA from Victoria on the weekend – which will prompt a “review of processes” after she was granted an exemption to travel into the state.

Spurrier said the patient had arrived in the state after international travel but was not an SA resident.

Citing privacy reasons, she said: “I can’t tell you the country, but she’s come from an international destination… but she does have family in SA.”

SA Health later confirmed on social media that the woman had arrived in Australia from the United Kingdom.

Spurrier said she had previously been quarantining in a hotel in Victoria, and was “well into her first week of her quarantine”. She has been isolating in SA, having been given an exemption to travel to the state for “compelling family reasons” after authorities conducted a “risk mitigation process”.

“There’s always a risk involved with any decision… but we do have a very considered look and the majority of requests for exemptions are denied,” she said.

“We are not coronavirus-free and we will see cases from time to time.”

She confirmed authorities have known about the positive test since “late yesterday afternoon”, since when SA Health “have been working through all the aspects of this case”.

“Please be reassured we are following these processes,” she said of SA’s border restrictions.

“I’m part of the team that looks at various exemptions… we do have a large number of people asking for exemptions to travel into SA, to not go into quarantine [and] this has reinforced our resolve to be strict on granting those sorts of exemptions…

“I think this is absolutely a reason why we need to be very strict with looking at these exemptions… however, you must understand there are some reasons why from a compassionate point of view we need to look at all parts of the process.”

She said “a significant number of contacts” SA Health believed had been in contact with the woman were being traced and “we’ll be asking all those people to be in quarantine”.

“On her arrival at Adelaide Airport, she was tested [after] she came into the state on the weekend… we had the results quite promptly back… she is in isolation, she’s being monitored for her symptoms [and] she doesn’t need to go to hospital,” she said.

While the new case is not attributed to community transmission, the fact it has been linked to interstate travel will strengthen the Marshall Government’s case against loosening border restrictions ensuring new arrivals to SA self-isolate for 14 days after entry.

As of yesterday, almost 42,000 people have arrived in SA since border restrictions were imposed.

Marshall earlier today spoke of the risk in reopening the SA economy too quickly, but did not announce the new case when he fronted media this morning.

“We’ve worked so hard as a state to get to where we are… we don’t want to cede this position by going a little bit too far, a little bit too fast [on loosening restrictions], getting a major cluster… and having to put restrictions back in place,” he said.

Spurrier said today she was “comfortable with the way restrictions are being eased in SA”.

The new case brings SA coronavirus total to 440.

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