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Five new confirmed COVID cases in SA, 14 suspected cases

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UPDATED: South Australia is bracing for a surge in the number of positive COVID-19 cases, after recording five new coronavirus cases today – at least four of which are linked to the Parafield cluster in Adelaide’s north – with a further 14 suspected of being infected.

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Premier Steven Marshall said this afternoon that there are now potentially up to 21 cases linked to the Parafield cluster, which started when a worker at Peppers medi-hotel on Waymouth Street became infected and transmitted the disease to their extended family.

Of the four new cases announced today that are linked to the cluster, one works at AnglicareSA’s residential aged care home at Brompton and the other three cases are relatives of one of the medi-hotel security guards who tested positive yesterday.

SA’s chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said she had only received information about the fifth case minutes before briefing the media and health authorities were conducting interviews to determine whether that case was also linked to the cluster.

SA Health said the fifth case is believed to be locally-acquired.

The five new cases range from teenagers to people aged in their 50s and either have no COVID-19 symptoms or are mildly symptomatic, meaning they are in the early stages of the disease.

They are all currently in hotel quarantine.

Spurrier said authorities were treating an additional 14 people as suspect cases, as they have been in close contact with infected people linked to the Parafield cluster.

The 14 people are either waiting for test results or received initial negative results and are getting retested.

“Because we want to be very, very precautionary and really work very quickly that is why we are calling them suspect cases and we’ve put public health into action to make sure that we can contain it (the virus),” Spurrier said.

It comes after authorities confirmed they misreported yesterday’s number of positive cases linked to the Parafield cluster.

Only 16 cases were identified as being linked to the cluster yesterday – not the previously reported 17.

Of the five new cases announced today, one was reported by Marshall on radio this morning, a further three were revealed by Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt at about 1pm and one new case was identified later this afternoon, bringing the total number of confirmed cases linked to the cluster to 20.

There are about 4000 close contacts of known cases who have been forced into quarantine.

Five schools shut

Roma Mitchell Secondary College at Gepps Cross, Mount Carmel College at Rosewater, Mawson Lakes School and Preschool, Holy Family Catholic School at Parafield Gardens and Thomas More College at Salisbury Downs have all been indefinitely shut after students or staff members were either infected with COVID-19 or came in close contact with positive cases.

Gawler District College Birth to Year 12 School has also put out a warning stating that a member of its community has been in close contact with a current positive COVID-19 case.

“The school community member has been tested and the results are negative,” the school posted on its Facebook page.

“Out of an abundance of caution SA Health has asked members of our school community who were in close contact with this person, to self-isolate until the 27th November.”

All staff and students required to self-isolate because they have been in close contact with this person have now been contacted by the school and are self-isolating.

Spurrier said some of the schools might be closed for longer than others.

Overseas travellers face longer quarantine

She said a “significant number of people” who recently arrived in South Australia from overseas who are currently in hotel quarantine were informed today that they would be required to remain in quarantine for a further 14 days – regardless of whether they are nearing the end of their quarantine stay.

“I absolutely sympathise and understand your frustration,” Spurrier said, addressing those impacted.

“But, in terms of public safety, not just for South Australia but for the whole of Australia, I urge you to be patient.”

Chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier at this afternoon’s press conference. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

It’s understood all staff at the Lyell McEwin Hospital, where the first case in the cluster was initially identified, have now been instructed to wear a mask and gloves for any contact with patients, regardless of symptoms.

Premier Steven Marshall said more than 5000 people were tested yesterday, with authorities expecting more than 6000 tests to be carried out today once testing clinics close at 8pm.

“This is nothing short of sensational and will be a record for South Australia,” he said

“We are just at the beginning stages of dealing with this particular very nasty cluster in Parafield.”

Four aged care workers confirmed cases

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said earlier this afternoon that four staff at the AnglicareSA Brompton residential aged care home had now returned positive tests, with the latter two “close family contacts” of the mother and daughter who tested positive yesterday.

“There is a very good chance all those infected were infected outside the facility,” he said.

“All residents have been tested and all have been negative… there will be additional testing as the week goes on.”

AnglicareSA said all residents at the Brompton residential aged care home have been tested and all have returned negative test results.

The residents are currently in lockdown for 14 days and are unable to receive visitors.

They will be retested at 72 hours and on day 12 of isolation.

SA ramps up testing

Premier Steven Marshall told ABC Radio Adelaide the Government “massively flexed the capacity” of testing yesterday.

It extended the opening hours of testing clinics across Adelaide from 8am until 8pm every night. The state’s contact tracing team has also received additional resources to cope with the increase in demand.

“Time is of the essence and we had to move very quickly,” Marshall said.

The Premier acknowledged that hours-long queues outside testing clinics was “obviously inconvenient”, but most people understood that it was important to get tested.

“It’s obviously inconvenient for people but what’s the alternative?,” he said.

“I think most people appreciated that there would be a delay and they were prepared to do that.”

People queuing at the COVID-19 testing site at Parafield Airport today. Photo: Kelly Barnes/AAP

Locations on alert

SA Health put out an alert at 10.24 this morning ordering anyone who was at The Aquadome on Crockerton Road at Elizabeth between 11.00am and 1.30pm on Saturday November 14 to immediately isolate for 14 days and get tested immediately if symptoms appear.

People who visited any of the other locations during the listed times do not need to self-quarantine but should monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, including fever or chills, an acute respiratory infection, loss of smell or alteration in the sense of taste, and get tested immediately if symptoms appear.

InDaily will continue to update the list as information becomes available.

Current restrictions

It comes as the State Government imposed a series of restrictions on gatherings and venues at midnight last night in response to the Parafield cluster.

They include caps on funerals, private gatherings, licenced venue capacity and visitors to aged care facilties.

Gyms and recreation centres have been shut-down and community sports fixtures and training, including indoor and outdoor sports, have been cancelled.

The Government has advised people to wear a mask where it is not possible to physically distance, such as on public transport.

Read the full list of restrictions and advice here.

Marshall described the restrictions, which are likely to be in place for two weeks, as “amongst the lightest anywhere in the country” on ABC radio this morning.

“I think we’ve got a very sensible balanced approach in South Australia and that will continue into the future, but at this stage we’re going to be doing everything that we can – throwing every single resource we have to make sure that we don’t have a second wave in South Australia,” he said.

“We know the consequences of that will be catastrophic (and) we’re not prepared to take that risk.”

Asked if the State Government would provide support to businesses impacted by the restrictions over the next two weeks, Marshall said the “primary responsibility is to make sure that whilst there might be some short-term pain for individuals and businesses in South Australia it doesn’t turn into long-term pain like we’ve seen in other parts of the country and other parts of the world”.

“We’ve been, I think, very sensible with the approach that we’ve taken, but there will unequivocally be some pain and this is one of the reasons why,” he said.

“In the most recent Budget those people that are still finding it difficult, we’ve offered a further $10,000 cash payment to those.”

Chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier told ABC Radio it was “very important” for people to reduce the amount of travel and contacts they’re having with other people.

“I want people to think about whether they have to go out for the next couple of days and week because we really want to reduce the number of contacts between people in South Australia – we can see how things took off very quickly in Victoria,” she said.

Spurrier said this afternoon that people should only get tested if they have COVID-19 symptoms.

“We do need to prioritise our testing across South Australia,” she said.

“We are particularly wanting South Australians who are symptomatic.”

How the Parafield cluster started

The Parafield cluster started when a worker at the Peppers medi-hotel in the city became infected and transmitted the disease to their extended family.

From three locally-acquired cases announced on Sunday afternoon, the cluster grew overnight on Sunday to a confirmed 20 cases.

Spurrier said this afternoon that the medi-hotel worker was infected by an overseas traveller who arrived in South Australia on November 2 and tested positive for coronavirus the following day.

An infected Hungry Jack’s worker has prompted the closure of the Port Adelaide outlet, while an alert has also been issued about Yatala Labour Prison after a staff member tested positive.

State schools more broadly will remain open for now.

Calvary Hospital has stopped all general visits, except for obstetrics and paediatrics patients.

About 90 staff and patients at the Lyell McEwin Hospital are in quarantine after an elderly family member presented to the emergency department while infectious.

State Courts administrator Julie-Anne Burgess said this morning that there would be no court appearances, either in person or via AVL, from Yatala Labour Prison.

She said there would also be no prisoner movement from any site to the Courts, but AVL hearings will proceed.

There are currently 34 active COVID-19 cases in South Australia, bringing the state’s total number of infections to 549.

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