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PM says SA to take more overseas arrivals from Monday, as Marshall seeks delay

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UPDATED: Prime Minister Scott Morrison says South Australia will resume accepting international flights on Monday – despite Premier Steven Marshall saying he wants to suspend overseas arrivals until the state overhauls its quarantine system.

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Morrison told reporters this morning that South Australia would “return to taking people back on Monday” as part of a federal push to repatriate more Australians stranded overseas.

He said the Federal Government’s priority was to “get Australians home”, despite acknowledging concerns from state and territory governments that the medi-hotel system is under pressure.

“I can assure you, Australia is moving everything we possible can to get as many Australians home,” he said.

“Tasmania and South Australia will return to taking people back on Monday, and in Victoria, they will go back and commence again on December 7.”

It comes after Premier Steven Marshall said last Thursday that South Australia would ban all international flights until Monday, November 30.

But this week, he said that the State Government would write to the Commonwealth asking it to consider waiting until South Australia received health advice.

InDaily asked Marshall’s office this morning to clarify whether the Government was considering extending the current suspension beyond November 30.

The spokesperson referred InDaily to Marshall’s comments yesterday.

The State Government yesterday announced it would transfer all coronavirus-infected people isolating in CBD medi-hotels to a designated, police-guarded quarantine facility, likely to be the old Wakefield Hospital.

Marshall said he would also ask the national cabinet to consider mandatory COVID-19 testing for all overseas travellers before they fly to South Australia “with a view that they have negative test results before boarding”.

He said that the State Government would work on a “gradual resumption of repatriation flights”, but it was not prepared to open borders “until we get the OK from SA Health”.

“We’re not going to doing anything which is going to jeopardise the situation which we have in South Australia, but we are 100 per cent committed to take international arrivals,” he said.

“We’re going to take the time to get this right – there’s no doubt about that.”

South Australia has faced intense scrutiny over its medi-hotel program, after a security guard working at Peppers medi-hotel in Waymouth Street contracted coronavirus from a quarantining overseas traveller and passed the virus into the community.

Before the cluster, South Australia accepted on average 600 returning Australians per week, meaning it had up to 1200 people quarantining in its medi-hotels at any given time.

Of the 558 coronavirus cases recorded in South Australia since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, 375 have come from overseas.

Marshall said once international flights resumed, he wanted to “start back at much reduced numbers”.

“We’re going to gradually step back into receiving those people,” he said.

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