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South African COVID strain arrives in SA as hard border lifts with WA


South Australia has immediately lifted its hard border restrictions with Western Australia, while the first COVID-19 case linked to the highly-infectious South African strain has been detected in an Adelaide medi-hotel.

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Acting chief public health officer Dr Emily Kirkpatrick told reporters this afternoon that a man aged in his 40s who arrived in South Australia from overseas on Tuesday is carrying the highly-infectious South African coronavirus strain.

She said the man is “clinically stable” and is quarantining at the Pullman Hotel at its dedicated two-floor quarantine facility.

The case is the first reported in South Australia that is linked to the South African variant, alongside four previously-reported cases linked to the highly-viral UK strain.

“My understanding was he (the infectious man) was asymptotic when tested and it was picked up very early in his infectious course,” Kirkpatrick said.

“As with all travellers coming into South Australia, it is a requirement to have a negative COVID test presented before they can board the plane and I can confirm that this individual did have a negative test, so we are very certain that this is a very new onset infection that was picked up on a day one test.

“This individual has not been in one of our LHNs (local health networks) or our public hospitals and they’re otherwise clinically stable.

“I’ve got no further added precautions that we’ve needed to add to this particular case.”

Kirkpatrick said both the South African and UK variants were of concern because they were more transmissible than other variants.

“We don’t want to cause too much alarm, of course, in the community, but it is important for people to be aware that this is our first case (of the South African strain) that we’ve had here,” she said.

“The same really high standards of precautions are applying for this case.

“This individual was transferred following all the requirements (and) there’s been no reported breaches with this particular transfer when they were moved from their existing medi-hotel into the dedicated facility.”

Kirkpatrick said people with the UK and South African COVID-19 variants need to quarantine for longer than 14 days if they have symptoms.

SA reported one new virus case on Friday in a woman in her 30s who recently returned to Australia from overseas.

She is in hotel quarantine.

There are currently two active coronavirus cases in SA.

SA lifts border restrictions with WA

Premier Steven Marshall announced that South Australia had immediately lifted its hard border arrangements with Western Australia.

However, people travelling from the Greater Perth, south-west and Peel regions will need to get tested on days one, five and 12.

They will also need to self-isolate until they receive the result from their day one test.

“We’re very satisfied with the information that is coming in from Western Australia and a decision was made to remove the hard border arrangement with Western Australia immediately,” Marshall said.

Those who have recently travelled into SA from WA can now end their 14-day quarantine period immediately unless they visited the Four Points Hotel coronavirus hotspot.

“This will be a massive, massive relief to in excess of 1300 people who have been doing the quarantine here in our state and can I say a massive thank you to each and every one of those,” Marshall said.

SA will not change its current border arrangements with Victoria, with travellers from Greater Melbourne required to have the three virus tests on days one, five and 12.

Vaccine hubs announced

Also announced today were more details of the coronavirus vaccine rollout across SA.

Marshall said about 60,000 South Australians would be included in the first wave to receive coronavirus vaccines.

That wave, to start later this month, includes frontline healthcare workers, hotel quarantine workers and residents and staff at residential aged care and disability facilities.

Marshall said those people will be proactively contacted by SA Health with nine hospitals in Adelaide and regional centres to act as virus distribution hubs.

The hubs include:

SA Health will also set up clinics in some regional locations to ensure people do not have to travel far to get vaccinated.

SA to increase hotel quarantine intake

Marshall said by the middle of this month South Australia would “slightly” increase its hotel quarantine capacity to 530, up from the current 490.

Before the Parafield cluster, SA’s quarantine capacity sat at 600.

“Unfortunately, we’re not going to be in a position to go back up to the 600 level, but we will be increasing it slightly over where we are at the moment,” Marshall said.

“We do want to play our role in the repatriation of Australian citizens, but we’ve looked very carefully at the acceptable capacity that we can have here in South Australia so that it will also provide us with that capacity if we do need to isolate people that are coming in, for example, from another state or if we do have another thing that develops here in our state.”

– with AAP

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