Chief Public Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier today revealed the first South Australian coronavirus case in more than three weeks – but said the case was currently being counted towards Victoria’s total caseload, after the man tested positive in that state on June 9.
It is three weeks since SA recorded its last new case on May 26, and two weeks after that case was no longer deemed active.
“We have actually had someone come through Adelaide Airport who in fact did test positive for COVID-19 – it’s a person who’s done quarantine in Victoria,” Spurrier told reporters this afternoon.
The 35 year-old Australian resident had recently returned from Pakistan and had been quarantined in Melbourne according to national guidelines, before arriving in SA on a Jetstar flight at 11am yesterday.
While in quarantine, he tested positive to COVID-19, having shown symptoms of the disease since May 26 – coincidentally the last day SA recorded a new coronavirus case.
Ironically, the positive test allowed him to leave isolation earlier than he would have otherwise, with Spurrier insisting the requirement allows people to travel 10 days after symptoms first appeared and three days after symptoms disappear.
However, he was tested again on arrival in SA, later returning a positive test.
“We’ve good really quite good border controls – one of our nurses was at the border here and did the ‘PCR’ testing,” Spurrier said.
“We did a risk assessment to make sure we haven’t overlooked any risk at all… I’m very happy there’s absolutely no risk to anybody in SA.”
She said the man landed in Melbourne on June 6, was tested three days later while quarantined “and unfortunately this gentlemen did test positive”.
However, she said she was relaxed about him being allowed to enter SA without a further test, insisting “the way we determine if someone can come out of isolation is if it’s been 10 days since onset of symptoms, and no symptoms for three days”.
“If the person’s symptom-free they can come out of isolation,” she said.
“That person has come back to SA, we have our nursing staff [at the airport and] a nurse has seen that this person had travelled internationally and took a PCR test and it’s come back positive”.
“We do have people who can test positive for a long period of time, it can be seven or eight weeks,” she said.
“People can continue to have a PCR-positive for quite a long time [but] we know it’s only about eight days the virus is viable…
“We would not count this as a new case.”
However, she said that may be revisited in coming days and the man added to SA’s COVID-19 total of 440.
“He was tested here but he was diagnosed in Victoria… it may be that in the next couple of days we do reallocate it,” she said.
Spurrier was adamant the arrival was “not infectious”.
“From what I understand they were not tested again, and came out of isolation on a clinical basis that they had cleared the disease,” she said.
“He was cleared by Victoria on June 14 – this is the issue people need to get their heads around: quarantine is required if you don’t have symptoms and are not a case – this gentleman had symptoms before coming to Australia.
“I think we’re very satisfied with how Victoria has run that process and it’s very consistent with our national guidelines.”
Today’s positive test is the first since a woman travelling from Britain via Melbourne tested positive after being given a travel exemption to visit her dying father – with SA Health later conceding she had arrived without their knowledge after they missed an email from their Victorian counterparts.
That controversy prompted a brief ban on compassionate exemptions and an overhaul of procedures relating to cross-border information sharing.
Premier Steven Marshall addressed media earlier today but did not raise the new positive test.
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