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No new COVID cases in SA as Victoria shuts its border

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UPDATED: South Australia has recorded no new COVID-19 cases overnight, but Victoria will impose a hard border closure from tomorrow in response to growing concerns over the Parafield cluster in Adelaide’s north.

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Despite today’s good news of no new cases, SA Premier Steven Marshall warned that there were potentially thousands of people who are still unknowingly infectious in the community.

He said the risk emphasised the need for the six-day hard lockdown, which prohibits people from leaving their homes except to access essential supplies and services.

Victoria, which has now gone 20 straight days with no new coronavirus cases or deaths, will close its border with South Australia tonight, after health authorities detected fragments of COVID-19 in wastewater along freight corridors.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews this morning announced the border restriction would be in place from 11:59pm for 48 hours before a permit system comes into effect from Sunday.

Under the hard border, only freight drivers and those with medical or emergency reasons, urgent animal welfare or as authorised by law will be able to cross the border.

Meanwhile, Marshall has cancelled all international flights into South Australia until November 30.

He said it was up to other jurisdictions to make decisions about their border arrangements, but “they should have great confidence in SA Health, in our public health administration and the way that we’ve gone about doing everything that we can to contain this cluster”.

“We have woken up to a very different South Australia today,” he said.

“What we do for the next six days will determine whether we are able to successfully stare down the threat posed by this outbreak of COVID-19.

“The alternative is the virus escapes into the wider community and we are forced into an extended lockdown to bring it under control.”

New cases

There were no new COVID-19 cases reported in South Australia overnight, but there remain 35 active cases – 22 of which are linked to the Parafield cluster.

SA Health this morning reported 23 cases linked to the Parafield cluster, but it revised that figure down to 22 this afternoon after one person, who initially tested positive for coronavirus one week ago, was reclassified today as a negative case.

Authorities have classed an additional 17 people as “suspected cases” after they came in contact with a positive case and are either waiting for a test result or returned an initial negative test and are getting retested.

Three people are in hospital in a stable condition.

It comes after authorities reported two new COVID-19 cases yesterday – both of which are linked to the cluster.

Chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said despite today’s good news, South Australia’s lockdown was still necessary.

She said unlike past clusters in South Australia, the Parafield cluster is “bigger and we have a lot more cases”.

“What we’re doing with the 23 cases and 17 suspected cases… is putting a double ring-fence around all of those people,” she said.

“All of those people have had close contacts and then their contacts have had close contacts – that’s where we’re up to, finding all of those people and requiring them to have quarantine.”

There are currently 3200 close contacts of known positive cases, or close contacts of those contacts, in quarantine.

Thousands more were not identified as close contacts but visited “high risk” locations and are in quarantine.

Spurrier said some at-risk people had not yet been identified by health authorities.

“It (the lockdown) is giving us time to have this pause to identify them, get them tested and have that 14-day quarantine period for all those people.”

South Australia has recorded 550 cases of coronavirus since February.

Restrictions

SA Police issued new directions for the lockdown early this morning.

The new directions outline who is permitted to leave the house as an essential worker and which services will stay open, such as pharmacies, petrol stations, supermarkets, veterinary clinics, post offices, banks, mechanics and some health services.

Hardware stores are also allowed to remain open following a late inclusion published at 1.41am today.

Bottle shops are open, following advice from drug and alcohol clinicians that those suffering alcoholism would have adverse health impacts if their supply was cut off.

However, markets – both indoor and outdoor, including the Central Market – are shut.

One person can leave their home, per day, for the purposes of obtaining essential goods or services, but they are not allowed to go outside to exercise or walk their dog.

People may leave their home in an emergency situation or if their home is unsafe, but they must try to get back into self-isolation as soon as they safely can.

That includes people who need to escape a bushfire, or harm or risk of harm, including in relation to family violence.

Marshall said if there were any directions given to evacuate an area due to today’s high fire danger warning “then clearly that will be something which is a priority over and above the (COVID-19) directions”.

If you need to attend an emergency relief centre or a bushfire last resort refuge, you need to stay outside, alert emergency services and follow instructions.

People can also leave to provide care and support to a vulnerable person, or to provide child-minding assistance so that a child’s parent or guardian can leave their home to work as an essential worker or to obtain essential goods or services.

Marshall said masks were “compulsory” when people leave their home.

“We do understand that there are many people who haven’t been able to access them at the moment, so in the first instance people will be warned,” he said.

“I know that there are police officers in Rundle Mall today handing out face masks.

“We appreciate that this has caught a lot of people by surprise, but you can’t wait to plan these things – time is of the essence.”

SA Police handing out masks near Rundle Mall. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

The restrictions will end at one minute past midnight on Wednesday, November 25.

State emergency coordinator and SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said that outdoor exercise would be the first restriction that would be lifted in the interests of people’s mental and physical health.

Locations on alert

SA Health added new locations this afternoon – Alive Catholic ELC at Parafield Gardens and Mount Carmel College at Rosewater.

If you visited the ELC on Friday November 13 or College on Thursday 12 to Friday 13 November, you must immediately self-quarantine for 14 days get tested.

Anyone who visited or got takeaway – including delivery – from the Woodville Pizza Bar on Woodville Road between November 6 and 16 needs to immediately self-quarantine for 14 days and get tested, after the shop was identified as a “high risk” location due to a link with at least two positive cases.

If you visited or got takeaway from the pizza bar, anyone you live with must also immediately self-quarantine for 14 days and get tested.

While at the testing clinics, they must wear a mask and alert staff that they visited the pizza bar.

The same directive applies for people who visited Thomas More College at Salisbury Downs and Roma Mitchell Secondary College at Gepps Cross on November 12 to 13.

Anyone who has visited Mawson Lakes School and Preschool, Lyell McEwin Hospital emergency department and the Aquadome at Elizabeth should also immediately self-quarantine and seek testing.

Meanwhile, people who visited Holy Family Catholic School at Parafield Gardens and Goodstart Early Learning Child Care Centre at Parafield Gardens should self-quarantine but they only need to seek testing if they develop symptoms.

SA Police have issued a directive for anyone who visited the Peppers medi-hotel on Waymouth Street since November 15 to immediately self-isolate and get tested.

Testing

SA Health is asking people to only attend a COVID-19 testing site if they have symptoms or have been instructed to get tested.

More than 20,000 South Australians have been tested over the past 48 hours, over 12,000 of whom were tested yesterday.

“This is just simply outstanding and I thank and congratulate every person who has gone forward for one of those tests,” Marshall said.

Health Minister Stephen Wade said the Victoria Park drive-through clinic is now open 24 hours until midnight Friday and the Elizabeth testing station would be open until midnight tonight.

He said new testing clinics would be opened in Adelaide’s north and west tomorrow, but did not reveal the locations.

Authorities “hopeful” schools will reopen before the end of the year

Marshall said public schools would commence online learning from Monday, “but we’ll have further advice in the coming days as to when we see schools going back”.

“I’m very hopeful that with the continued cooperation of the people of South Australia that this will be a very short intervention and we’ll have our students back at school soon,” he said.

“We’re very hopeful that we will stand-up school before the end of this year.”

– with AAP

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