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Four days without new SA COVID cases but 'pressure is still on' to fight cluster

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South Australia has recorded its fourth straight day of no new coronavirus cases, but health authorities are still trying to locate close contacts of positive cases who might be at risk.

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The number of active cases in South Australia dropped to 10 overnight, with all of those linked to the Parafield cluster in Adelaide’s north.

South Australia last recorded positive cases on Saturday – a child from the original family at the centre of the cluster and a man in his 30s, who contracted the virus while attending an English language school adjacent to Flinders University.

Chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier told reporters today that “every day that we go past where we haven’t had any cases is obviously fantastic”, but authorities were still trying to track down people who visited Woodville Pizza Bar, where two employees tested positive, as well as the Lyell McEwin Hospital Emergency Department, where the cluster was first detected.

SA Health has put out an alert to anyone who visited the pizzeria between November 6 to 16 to immediately self-quarantine with members of their household for 14 days and get tested on day one and 12 of quarantine.

“Whilst we have done really the best that we possibly could in this situation there are still possibly people that got pizza from the Woodville Pizza Bar that we weren’t able to get hold of and swab,” Spurrier said.

“There may be people indeed from the Lyell McEwin Hospital – we know there were a couple of patients that we couldn’t follow up, we didn’t have those contact details despite best efforts.

“I really need to reiterate to South Australians (that) until we’ve gone really the two full incubation cycles when we’ve had this in our community, the pressure is still on me but also the requirement for all of us to get tested.”

Over 6700 people were tested for COVID-19 yesterday.

Spurrier said she was “really heartened” by the high testing rates and the number of people wearing masks in public.

Her comments were echoed by Dr Dharminy Thurairatnam, the junior Lyell McEwin Hospital emergency department doctor who acted quickly to test the 81-year old female patient whose positive case alerted health authorities to the emergence of the Parafield cluster.

The woman did not display usual symptoms for COVID-19 when she visited the emergency department on November 13, but her persistent cough triggered Thurairatnam to conduct a test as a precaution.

“She was just feeling off and unwell,” Thurairatnam said.

“I didn’t expect her to come back with COVID-positive – that was the last thing in my mind.

“Eventually I had discharged her home because she was coping well and then I got to know that her swab come back as positive.

“As I was driving home I was thinking could this be a lab error? Could that be a possibility? But no, we repeated her test and that came back as positive too and then I knew that things got serious quickly.”

Thurairatnam said she was “very humbled” to be labelled a “hero” after alerting authorities to the first case of COVID-19 community transmission since April.

She said all front-line health staff were heroes during the pandemic.

“I don’t have words to describe how wonderful the people of South Australia have been.”

South Australia has recorded 562 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, 33 of which are linked to the Parafield cluster.

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