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SA border stays open to Victoria, but Melbourne travellers must be tested

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Travellers from Greater Melbourne are now required to get tested for COVID-19 upon arriving in South Australia after a Victorian hotel quarantine guard tested positive, but travel between the states is still allowed.

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Premier Steven Marshall announced this morning that people who travel into SA from the Greater Melbourne region will need to have a coronavirus test on days one, five and 12 and will be asked to isolate until they receive a negative result from the first test.

The requirement also applies to up to 8000 people who arrived in SA from Greater Melbourne since January 28, including those who flew in to Adelaide this morning.

Those who visited the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Melbourne since January 28 will be placed into hotel quarantine for 14 days and anyone who visited a range of hotspot locations across Melbourne will also be asked to self-isolate.

It comes after Victorian health authorities yesterday announced a worker at the Grant Hyatt medi-hotel in Melbourne had tested positive for COVID-19 – the second case linked to a hotel worker in Australia this week.

South Australia on Sunday imposed since relaxed hard border restrictions on Western Australia after a medi-hotel worker in Perth tested positive for COVID-19.

But despite Premier Steven Marshall saying he was “concerned” about Melbourne’s new locally-acquired case and the similarities with the WA situation, South Australia will not impose border restrictions on Victoria.

Deputy chief public health officer Dr Emily Kirkpatrick said there were “many differences” between the Victorian and Western Australian hotel quarantine systems and SA authorities were confident that the eastern state’s regime was strong enough to contain the spread of the virus.

“It is very important for us to understand that WA put a lot of measures in place (but) we are talking about two very different hotel quarantine facilities,” she said.

“In Victoria they were having daily saliva testing and also having a frequent nasal PCR regime for testing.

“We’ve had excellent information come across last night from Victoria and then again this morning and we feel very confident that they have moved very quickly to undertake contact tracing and testing, putting close contacts into quarantine and, of course, a very long list of locations have been identified.”

Police Commissioner and state emergency coordinator Grant Stevens said authorities gave “no consideration” to closing the state’s border to Victoria.

“Obviously, it was something that is in your mind in terms of what actions may be required based on the information that they provided, but there was no movement towards that in the absence of getting a full briefing,” he said.

“We believe that what we’re proposing going forward with Victoria is a reasonable step to protect South Australians from COVID-19 without inhibiting that movement between states unnecessarily.”

Meanwhile, the state’s transition committee is considering whether to lift a requirement on people to isolate until they receive the result from their day one test, with a decision likely to be made at tomorrow’s meeting.

Kirkpatrick said SA authorities had sought advice from other jurisdictions about their requirements, with that advice to be considered tomorrow.

“It’s really important that we do have that testing regime – it’s a very important defence for us here in South Australia that we do test people on days one, five and 12 – but we do also need to consider are there other measures we could take, such as reporting close contacts, wearing a mask during that time period, rather than having that isolation associated,” she said.

South Australia recorded no new coronavirus cases today after yesterday’s four reported cases, which were all linked to people who had returned from overseas and were isolating in hotel quarantine.

Kirkpatrick said two of yesterday’s cases were still active.

All active coronavirus cases will in two weeks’ time quarantine at Tom’s Court Hotel in the city, after SA Health signed an agreement with the hotel’s management this week.

The contact has been signed for six months, with SA Health to have access to the building on Monday to allow time for staff to familiarise themselves with the site and undertake training.

Active cases are currently quarantining on two floors of the Pullman medi-hotel, despite the Government announcing last year that it would set up a standalone facility before international flights resumed flying into Adelaide.

“Given the highly transmissible strain we are seeing from overseas, any COVID-19 positive patients already at the Pullmans at the time of Tom’s Court opening will not be moved,” Health Minister Stephen Wade said.

“They will remain in the two dedicated floors at the Pullman until they are cleared so there may be a short period where two facilities are used.”

Wade said all medi-hotel staff would receive daily saliva testing by Monday.

Low case numbers in SA has prompted SA Health to allow Adelaide Oval to increase its capacity to 75 per cent – up from 50 per cent – but Kirkpatrick said SA Health was not considering lifting the density requirements for other large venues.

“We feel very confident now in their (Adelaide Oval management’s) mask usage and they understand the requirements for wearing masks when moving between seats and in particularly in areas when entering and leaving the facility,” Kirkpatrick said.

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