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“Pivotal day” amid new SA cases, concerns over community transmission

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SA Health has issued an urgent warning about three northern suburbs businesses after they were visited by one of two new confirmed cases of COVID-19, as Premier Steven Marshall foreshadows further restrictions to prevent a second wave of coronavirus in the state.

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South Australian chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said both new cases are young women who were diagnosed yesterday, one of whom was a close contact of another confirmed case related to the Roma Mitchell Secondary and Thebarton Senior Colleges cluster.  

She visited several businesses while unaware she was infectious, including Fernwood Fitness in Salisbury Downs, Agha Juice House in Blair Athol and Najafi Carpet Gallery in Kilburn.

“This is somebody who has come forward, who has understood the importance of coming forward when symptomatic and got tested, and I’m very grateful for that person for doing so,” Spurrier said. 

SA Health has issued an urgent health alert for all three businesses.

A separate health alert has been issued for Roma Mitchell Secondary College in Gepps Gross, Thebarton Senior College in Torrensville and the Walkers Arms Hotel in Walkerville.

People who attended those locations on the identified dates are not required to self-isolate unless they are contacted by SA Health’s Communicable Disease Control branch.

However, they should get tested for COVID-19 and immediately self-isolate if they develop symptoms.

Spurrier said today’s second new case could be the result of community transmission.

She said SA Health tried to get in contact with the woman last night, but didn’t speak to her until this morning.

“I do not have any detail at this time, so I really can’t make any comments about it other than to say it may be an example of community transmission,” she said. 

“It wasn’t clear that this was a person who’s returned from Victoria.” 

The two new cases bring the state’s total to 457. 

Spurrier said today was “pivotal” in the state’s battle against the coronavirus, and it was “inevitable” that cases of community transmission would emerge.

“Yesterday and today have really been concerning for my team and I,” she said.  

“You can really see the cases start to mount up now in South Australia.”

Premier Steven Marshall flagged the State Government would impose “sensible” new restrictions to slow the spread of the virus – beyond yesterday’s announcement that home gatherings would be capped at 10 people and pub and club patrons would only be able to drink alcohol while seated from midnight tonight.

“South Australia has had the lightest touch restrictions,” he said.

“We’ve got to stay in front of this curve.

“We’re going to do everything we can to keep our state safe.”

Spurrier admitted increasing South Australia’s restrictions “seems like a penalty”.

“But the thing is with this disease you only get one chance,” she said. 

“At some point we do need to reduce the movement of people in South Australia and the number of contacts that every person in South Australia has.

“It’s such a pity that we are going to have to do this with the restrictions but please stay with us on this.”

It comes as the State Government today announced it would set up a satellite control centre and a new medi-hotel in Mount Gambier.  

A new drive-through testing clinic will also be opened in Victoria Park, as well as “heavy vehicle” testing facilities in Port Augusta and Tailem Bend to help the state’s health system deal with ramping at testing clinics.  

“These are really important improvements that we’re making to strengthen that frontline for the men and women who are working here to keep South Australia safe and strong,” Marshall said.

Nearly 300 people will today arrive in South Australia on repatriation flights.

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