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SA to deal with pandemic for years as control centre doubles in size

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South Australia will be dealing with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic for years, Health Minister Stephen Wade says, as the State Government today doubles the size of the state control centre and Victoria looks to extend its state of emergency for another 12 months.

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Wade said the Government would double the size of the control centre and the number of staff who work there to help the state respond to the operations, planning and logistics of its response to the global pandemic.

He said the announcement was a “clear demonstration” that South Australia would be forced to deal with the health and economic consequences of the virus for the “long term”.

“It’s also very clear that this is not a short-term task,” he said.

“We know that this is going to take years to recover from.

“For the next two years we will be continuing to operate the pandemic response, particularly coordinated by SA Health, but we’re very keen to see a strong, continued economic recovery in South Australia.”

There are about 40 people who work at the control centre, but up to another 40 people will be added to the payroll as part of the expansion.

An expression of interest will be open to staff from SA Health and across Government who are interested in joining the centre.

The centre is responsible for coordinating the state’s medi-hotels, quarantine and logistical support for clinicians and nursing staff.

“By recruiting an additional 40 staff to work in the SCC-H, we will secure a more sustainable workforce model for the next 12 to 24 months, who will be an integral part of the State’s COVID-19 response,” Wade said. 

State Control Centre Health Commander Paul McGowen said as part of the expansion, the SCC-H will be relocated into a larger, dedicated area within SA Health headquarters next month.

He said the new location would allow SA Health to operate the centre 24/7, should the need arise.

“The SCC-H has been the central hub of the latest information, data, and planning since its establishment in March,” McGowen said.

“The extra 40 staff will undertake five key functional areas of operations, planning, logistics, intelligence and exemptions.”

Meanwhile, the Victorian government wants to extend the state’s state of emergency by another 12 months to combat the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

But parliament must approve the change, because under current legislation the state of emergency cannot extend beyond six months.

The original state of emergency was declared in March as Victoria’s first outbreak struck and has been extended six times. It is due to end on September 13.

Melbourne is scheduled to come out of its stage-four lockdown on September 13, while the stage-three provisions for regional Victoria are also due to end on that date.

Premier Daniel Andrews is hopeful the change to legislation will pass through parliament.

“It’s very logical. It makes sense,” he said.

He says the state of emergency will remain necessary until a vaccine is available.

The state of emergency means Victoria Police can enforce measures such as people who test positive having to isolate.

It is separate to the state of disaster, which was declared on August 2 when Melbourne went into its stage-four lockdown and means police can enforce the city’s 8pm-5am curfew.

-with AAP

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