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SA shuts out Sydney COVID site travellers amid new vaccination headache

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South Australia will close its border to travellers who have visited COVID-19 exposure sites in Sydney, as new advice on the age for people to receive AstraZeneca throws a spanner into the state’s vaccination rollout.

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A coronavirus outbreak in Sydney’s eastern suburbs grew to three cases today, after a woman in her 70s tested positive after visiting a café.

The two other cases – a husband and wife – were detected on Wednesday and a number of busy venues were declared potential exposure sites.

Chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier told reporters this afternoon that anyone in South Australia who visited a high-risk COVID hotspot in Sydney since June 11 is required to quarantine for 14 days.

There are currently 19 high-risk COVID hotspots in New South Wales, which are listed on the NSW Health website.

They include several shops and hospitality venues in Bondi Junction, Vaucluse and Castle Hill.

SA Health has published a survey on its website and Facebook page to help people check if they are required to go into quarantine.

Meanwhile, anyone in New South Wales who visited an at-risk site will be banned from travelling into South Australia, with a direction set to be enforced later today.

Spurrier said New South Wales authorities last night sent text messages to people who had checked-in to the exposure sites using QR codes.

“You may be in South Australia, you may have already received that advice, so you need to be following that and we will be working closely with our New South Wales colleagues,” she said.

“What we will be looking at, now that we’ve got further information this morning, is getting our data together and looking at whether we need to SMS people in South Australia as well.”

South Australia lifted its border to travellers from regional Victoria on Tuesday, but people in Greater Melbourne are still banned from travelling into the state.

Spurrier said there had been unlinked cases of COVID-19 in Melbourne and she had “very significant concerns” that as the restrictions lift in Victoria, the state might record new cases.

“It’s good that they’re able to lift some restrictions today, but we are very unrestricted here in South Australia,” she said.

“It’s weighing up on a scale of what will be reasonable.

“We’re looking at this every day, we’re talking to SAPOL every day and we’ve just got to be patient.”

AstraZeneca advice change “disappointing”

Spurrier said it was “disappointing” that the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation had changed its advice on the AstraZeneca vaccine, lifting the recommended age for the jab to over 60.

The AstraZeneca vaccine was until today recommended for all over 50s, but is not advised for the younger cohort due to extremely rare but sometimes fatal blood clots.

ATAGI today recommended that the Federal Government lift the recommended age for receiving the AstraZeneca jab from over 50 to over 60.

Health Minister Greg Hunt this afternoon confirmed the government has accepted this advice, with Pfizer now the preferred vaccine for under 60s.

Spurrier said SA Health had already advised government-run vaccination clinics of the change.

She said people who are aged under 59 who are booked in to get their vaccination at the clinics this afternoon will receive the Pfizer vaccination.

“We have got reasonable supplies of Pfizer in our state but this is a big change,” she said.

“It is unfortunate, it is disappointing and it will impact the vaccine rollout, but we have to follow that best clinical advice, as we have throughout the pandemic.

“We are going to have to pivot the vaccine program.”

SA Health reported one new COVID-19 case in South Australia today – a woman in her 40s who acquired the infection overseas and has been in a medi-hotel since her arrival.

A man in his 40s who is COVID-positive has been transferred to the Royal Adelaide Hospital and is in a stable condition.

Adelaide Airport to trial COVID-19 detector dogs

Six trained detector dogs have started research trials at Adelaide Airport to determine the feasibility of training dogs to detect COVID-19.

They include four Australian Border Force detector dogs, one South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service dog and one dog from the University of Adelaide.

The dogs have the ability to detect the scent of someone infected with COVID-19 before they start shedding the virus.

People who arrive at Adelaide Airport from overseas will be asked whether they would like to participate in the trial on a voluntary basis.

If they agree to participate, SA Pathology nurses will take samples of their sweat from their underarms.

The dogs will then smell the samples to determine if the person is infected with COVID-19.

The project is part of an international research alliance led out of France.

The results from the Adelaide trials are expected to be published in late 2021 and will inform whether further operational trials should be undertaken.

– with AAP

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