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Victorian COVID case 'linked' to Adelaide medi-hotel

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UPDATED: SA Health has confirmed a recent Victorian COVID-19 case is linked to another positive case in an Adelaide medi-hotel, prompting authorities to scramble to isolate and test those who stayed on the same floor as the infectious men.

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It comes as South Australia this afternoon enforced a ban on people travelling into the state if they visited a high-risk infectious site in Melbourne.

The sites are listed on the Victorian Department of Health website and include businesses in the suburbs of Altona North, Craigieburn, Docklands, Epping and Melbourne.

In a statement issued late this afternoon, South Australia’s chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said that genomic results showed that the Melbourne case is linked to a recent case currently in quarantine at the Tom’s Court medi-hotel.

Both infectious men were quarantining in neighbouring rooms on level three of Adelaide’s Playford medi-hotel earlier this month.

She said that investigations into the precise cause of transmission are ongoing.

“In an abundance of caution, those people who were on level three of the hotel during the period of concern who have subsequently been discharged will be required to quarantine for a further 14 days,” she said.

“This includes ten South Australians who will be able to quarantine at home, if the home setting is suitable.”

Spurrier said that SA Health had confirmed that the “vast majority” of staff at the Playford medi-hotel who were working at the time had their required daily testing.

She said SA Health was still trying to follow-up five staff.

“At this stage, there have been no new cases linked to this case,” she said.

Spurrier told reporters yesterday that the Melbourne man, who arrived in Adelaide from overseas, was quarantining at the Playford medi-hotel on North Terrace and stayed in a room next to another overseas arrival who tested positive for COVID-19 during his stay.

That man was later transferred to Tom’s Court medi-hotel, which is a dedicated facility set up for positive cases.

The Melbourne man, who did not test positive for COVID-19 during his quarantine stay, took a flight to Melbourne on May 4.

Authorities believe the man was not infectious while he was on the flight.

Before his infection was detected on Tuesday, he visited several public sites throughout Melbourne, prompting Victorian health authorities to issue an alert ordering anyone who visited the sites at designated times to quarantine and get tested.

SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens told reporters this afternoon that he had signed a direction banning anyone who visited the sites from travelling into South Australia.

He said anyone who is already in South Australia and who visited the at-risk sites will be ordered to quarantine for 14 days and get tested.

“This means that anybody who has visited one of those sites at specific times of designated days will be prohibited from entering South Australia and it’s important to note that those people should be quarantining in Victoria at this time,” he said.

“This is being done in order to ensure we are protecting the South Australian community from the positive case that has been identified in Victoria.”

Stevens said flights from Victoria had arrived in Adelaide yesterday, but he was unsure how many people were in South Australia who could have visited the high-risk sites.

“At this time the list is quite limited so we don’t imagine this is going to have a significant impact on people’s plans to travel from Victoria to South Australia, or those who are returning at this point in time,” he said.

“If you’re planning to travel to Victoria or New South Wales it’s important to remember that there are elements of risk associated with those jurisdictions at this time.

“There is no concern about where you visit specifically because the high-risk locations relate to specific times on specific days.

“Obviously those days and times have passed, so there is no further ongoing concern for those locations, but it is about being mindful of the fact that whilst we have some element of concern, there is a possibility that the circumstances might change and we’d encourage people to be flexible with their travel arrangements so they can make changes if necessary.”

Meanwhile, SA Police has today launched “Taskforce Trace”, with plainclothed police officers to patrol businesses to ensure people check-in using QR codes or paper registers upon entering.

Stevens said the taskforce was established following “a level of complacency in the community regarding people QR coding into businesses and venues where that’s an obligation”.

He said from May 13, police officers would check people’s compliance with checking-in to businesses such as supermarkets and restaurants.

The taskforce will be reassessed on May 21.

“The purpose here is not to issue expiation notices in the first instance unless we see blatant disregard for the requirements, but to remind people of their obligation and pull people up who are simply walking past those QR codes,” Stevens said.

“This is a small part that we can play as SA Police to remind people of their obligations.”

Stevens said police would also remind businesses of their obligations to ensure QR codes are displayed near their entrance.

“These steps are being taken to make sure if we do have an outbreak in South Australia, SA Health are in the best position to respond and minimise the likelihood of us having to move to more harsh restrictions as a result,” he said.

“I think the outbreak from South Australia’s medi-hotel is a great reminder to us that whilst this particular individual travelled to Victoria they could have just as easily have moved back into the South Australian community.”

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