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Another new case, authorities probe Woodville link

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The Parafield COVID cluster has grown to 31 with another new case confirmed today, as health authorities continue to probe how and when a Woodville schoolgirl caught the virus.

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Chief Public Health officer Nicola Spurrier this afternoon declared a “large number” of students, staff and their families had been forced into quarantine after the Woodville High School student tested positive yesterday, but said the girl’s results were “not entirely straightforward”.

“It looks like she has had an exposure at the Woodville Pizza Bar having picked up a pizza on November 14, when indeed that was an infectious period and we know people there were infected,” she said.

There might have been someone else who’s had this infection that she might have got infected through

Two medi-hotel staff are known to have worked at the pizzeria during this period, including the Spanish man whose misleading information was blamed for last week’s lockdown.

Spurrier said investigations would now take in “that whole area around Woodville”, with a new testing facility to be established.

Authorities will also establish a new air-conditioned walk-in testing station at the Wayville Showgrounds with looming hot weather.

Meanwhile, drive-through testing sites on Friday and Saturday will be open from 6.30am to 11am, with the Victoria Park site reopening in the evening from 8pm to midnight.

“We’re going to make sure we’ve got enough testing sites available,” Spurrier said.

Spurrier said the other new case, confirmed this morning, was “a male in his 40s known to be a close contact of a case that’s linked to the cluster” and who was already in quarantine with his family.

“Because of the ‘circuit breaker’, we’re confident we don’t have a risk of that [case] going any further forward,” she said.

There are now 31 cases linked to the Parafield cluster, with one woman still in hospital, albeit stable.

Around 4800 close contacts – and their contacts – remain in quarantine.

Spurrier said the schoolgirl’s case was still under contact tracing investigation, and “we’re just looking to see to what degree we feel this young girl was infectious” when she attended school on Monday.

However, she maintained “this young person has done absolutely nothing wrong”, saying: “The fact she got herself tested I’m so pleased about.”

“She’s followed the directions within her understanding of what she needed to do,” she said.

Asked why the case was different to that of the Woodville Pizza Bar worker who alleged “lie” was blamed for sparking last week’s state lockdown – when he wrongly claimed to have similarly bought a takeaway pizza, instead of working several shifts at the venue – Spurrier said: “It’s quite complex.”

“One of the reasons for doing [the lockdown] was to get our contact tracing team really ramped up [and] we’re in a good place now in terms of the contact tracing team,” she said.

“We’re now in a different situation, we’ve had that pause.”

She said the girl’s exposure was “way back at the beginning” but “we’re still working through exactly this person’s infectiousness period [and] working to look at the interpretation of the data”.

“We still haven’t completely nailed exactly how she got infected or when she was infectious,” Spurrier said.

“Also possibly there might have been someone else who’s had this infection that she might have got infected through… the jury’s still out on that at the moment.”

She said investigators had drawn an “epidemiological” link to the pizzeria, but that “it took some time for us to get credit card details” of customers for detailed tracing.

“All we’ve been able to do around the Woodville Pizza Bar is give social media advice,” she said.

“I don’t think there’s any point at all to be pointing the finger and saying anyone’s to blame.

“If you did get a pizza from that pizza bar, now is the time to get tested, and I can tell you 100 per cent I’m going to back you, and not be pointing the finger of blame.”

Meanwhile, SA Police expect to wrap-up an investigation into the case that triggered last week’s short-lived lockdown by the end of the week.

Spurrier said 95 per cent of medi-hotel staff at Peppers – from which the virus escaped, sparking the cluster – had now returned negative tests.

The medi-hotel regime continues to come under scrutiny, with deputy chief public health officer Dr Michael Cusack telling ABC Radio Adelaide this morning he didn’t know why an active surveillance program he announced in August didn’t go ahead.

At the time, he said “we want to ensure we aren’t missing any active cases at all [and that] there is no possibility for leakage of the virus outside the hotel system”.

“We’re going to commence an active surveillance program in the hotel and amongst the security staff from today,” he said in August.

“I’d see it as ongoing but I would be guessing it would be something in the region of 80 to 100 tests in the first instance, but as part of an active surveillance program you would expect us to sort of carry on on a steady basis into the future.”

Asked today why that didn’t eventuate as spruiked, he replied: “I know that it was very closely looked at, I’m afraid I don’t have the information why they didn’t go ahead at that time… it has now commenced.”

Spurrier said that “testing in medi-hotels over a long period of time [has] been going since August” on a voluntary basis, but “we’re very pleased we now have a rolling regime of testing”.

SA Health introduced a seven-day mandatory testing regime on the Sunday last week, when the cluster was revealed.

The Government will next week launch its new QR Code tracing system via the MySA GOV app, which Premier Steven Marshall said would need to be re-downloaded by anyone who already has it.

Marshall said the system, which will be active from December 1, would only be used for SA Health contact tracing purposes and would only be kept for 28 days.

Spurrier said her contact tracing team had been “so looking forward to having this” as “they can immediately, 24/7, go straight to that data base [so] it will really speed things up”.

The Government is also confident it will be able to ease a suite of restrictions on Tuesday, including opening South Australia’s border to Victoria.

State emergency coordinator Grant Stevens said the transition committee would meet tomorrow to discuss “a Christmas that is as normal as possible”.

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