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Tougher SA restrictions after two new cases

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South Australians will only be able to gather with up to ten people at home and must remain seated while drinking alcohol at pubs and clubs under new restrictions being brought in from midnight tomorrow after the state today recorded two new COVID-19 cases.

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Premier Steven Marshall said that the new restrictions were prompted by “extraordinary concerns” about virus-ravaged Victoria, which today reported another 429 new coronavirus infections – the 29th consecutive day of a triple-digit increase.

From midnight tomorrow, home gatherings will be limited to 10 people – down from the current limit of 50 – and people will only be allowed to drink alcohol at licensed venues while seated.

Marshall foreshadowed further changes to density restrictions at licensed venues, football matches and fitness studios.

He said it was “likely” Adelaide Oval could be limited to 10,000 spectators, with the Government in talks with the Stadium Management Authority to discuss potential impacts on scheduled matches.

But he said the Government would do all that it could to avoid the “absolutely devastating” restrictions currently in force in Victoria, which is subject to a level four lockdown under a “state of disaster”.

“Australia is on high alert,” he said.

“These are not restrictions that we put in place lightly – we hate putting these restrictions in place.

“We fully appreciate the massive effect that these will have on gatherings that have already been planned… but we put them in place to keep the people in our state safe.”

It comes as South Australia today recorded two new positive coronavirus cases – bringing the state’s total to 455 with eight currently active.

This absolutely reflects the situation in Victoria

One of the new cases – a man aged in his 50s – was a close contact to a woman aged in her 20s, who was yesterday reported coronavirus positive, forcing the temporary closures of Roma Mitchell Secondary and Thebarton Senior Colleges.

The man, who has respiratory symptoms but is “generally pretty well”, had been in quarantine and is currently isolating in a medi-hotel.

He had been in close contact one other person, who has been tested.

Chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said SA Health decided to label the cases linked to the woman in her 20s as a new cluster.

The other new case was also a man aged in his 50s, who arrived in Adelaide over the weekend from a repatriation flight from New Delhi.

There will be a continual ramping up of our restrictions

That man is also quarantining in a medi-hotel.

“This is obviously disappointing,” chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said.

“This absolutely reflects the situation in Victoria.

“This is a reflection of how transmissible this virus is and how quickly it is spread.”

Health Minister Stephen Wade told ABC Radio Adelaide this morning Victoria’s “very stubborn” case numbers had prompted authorities to consider boosting restrictions in SA, beyond the current caps on funerals, weddings and private gatherings.

He said authorities were “certainly looking at restrictions in relation to aged care and other matters” and would be making “a number of announcements in the coming days”.

“There will be a continual ramping up of our restrictions,” he said.

“We’re very forward-leaning on aged care.

“We’re the only state in Australia which has committed to relocate positive cases as soon as it’s found in aged care and we’ve worked very closely with stakeholders to shield some of our most vulnerable citizens from the risk of COVID-19.”

Roma Mitchell Secondary and Thebarton Senior Colleges remain closed today and about 40 students are self-isolating as the schools undergo deep cleaning.

The closures were prompted by a woman in her 20s who tested positive over the weekend.

She was  a close contact of a known case and attended Thebarton Senior College and an after-hours language class at Roma Mitchell Secondary College while infectious.

The Department for Education announced both sites would shut for a minimum of 24 hours while deep cleaning and contact tracing takes place.

The campuses are not set to reopen until public health officials indicate that it is safe to do so.

Education Minister John Gardner told FIVEaa radio this morning the campuses might not open until Wednesday “out of an abundance of caution”.

“During Term 1 when we had a number of occasions where these protocols were enacted it was usually a two-day closure rather than a 24-hour closure, but it will depend on the circumstances, particularly what parts of the school the person with an infection has actually interacted with and engaged with,” he said.

“It could be tomorrow or it could be Wednesday, it will be when they tell us to.”

Gardner said authorities were making it “as convenient as humanly possible, particularly for people near the Thebarton Senior campus” to get tested if they experience COVID-19 symptoms.

Roma Mitchell Secondary College in Gepps Cross has over 1300 students, while Thebarton Senior College’s enrolments tip over 1200.

Gardner told ABC Radio Adelaide this morning authorities “don’t have a fear within schools that we’re at a point where we need to restore restrictions”, but preparations were underway “in case any of that changes”.

“We’re taking a very matter of fact approach to this, being very closely aligned to the SA Health advice,” he said.

“I think out public health teams have done us proud this year and we see no reason to do anything other than what they instruct us to do.”

The second positive case reported yesterday was a teenage girl who returned home from Melbourne on Jetstar flight JQ774 on Monday July 26, but failed to get tested for coronavirus until Friday.

Wade said it was “very unlikely” the girl was infectious but the case is still being treated as active.

“All the information provided to me through SA Health and police is that she was self-isolating, she failed to take the day one test, she was followed up and she had the test done,” he said.

Both the woman in her 20s and the teenager are currently isolating in a medi-hotel.

SA Health is currently monitoring 95 close contacts of known cases on a daily basis.

“Whilst we do have an initial test done on all of those close contacts and even if it is negative, we will be following those people carefully for those 14 days to make sure that if they do develop those symptoms they get tested again,” Spurrier said.

Meanwhile, Flinders Medical Centre is temporarily not accepting more people for COVID-19 tests as it deals with a surge in demand. 

Spurrier urged people with virus symptoms to visit the SA Health website to find an alternative testing clinic.

Two repatriation flights are due to land in Adelaide tomorrow – an Air India flight with 149 passengers and a Singapore Airlines flight with 123 people.

SA’s transition committee, charged with managing the state’s response to COVID-19, is due to meet tomorrow to discuss further hardening the state’s restrictions.

The Opposition is calling on the Government to impose a “hard mandatory testing regime” at every border crossing from Victoria to ensure any vehicle or person who enters SA gets tested immediately.

“It’d require a large amount of resources to be thrown at the border to enable that but we think we should be doing everything we possibly can to mitigate that risk,” Labor leader Peter Malinauskas said on ABC Radio this morning.

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