Premier Steven Marshall told reporters this morning that South Australia had a “good rate, an increasing rate” of vaccinations, but some people had problems booking appointments.
He said SA Health had set up pop-up supermarket stations in areas with lower vaccination rates, where people could receive help booking an appointment.
“We want to avoid a lockdown in South Australia,” he said.
“We’ve put some restrictions in place that we believe will help provide added layers of protection, but the very best thing that people can be doing is going off and having a test if they become ill or develop any systems, making sure they use QR codes wherever they go so they’re checking in, and thirdly – when they’re eligible – going in and having that vaccination.”
Australia has the lowest vaccination rate out of all OECD advanced economies, with only about five per cent of the population fully vaccinated.
Shadow SA Health Minister Chris Picton this morning accused Marshall of being dishonest in his comments about the vaccine rollout.
“Right around the country we’ve had premiers speaking out about the really poor effort that we’ve seen on the vaccine program that sees us at the bottom of the OECD and in the 120s of countries around the world for people fully vaccinated,” he said.
“Yet here in South Australia, our premier Steven Marshall yesterday went out and said the rollout of the vaccine had been excellent.
“Clearly it is a race and other countries around the world are doing much better than us.”
Commonwealth Government data released yesterday shows South Australia has so far administered 217,379 vaccine doses in state-run clinics.
The data puts South Australia behind NSW, Victoria, Queensland and WA.
“We’ve currently got some 67,000 doses sitting in state government stockpiles, according to the data released by the Commonwealth Government yesterday,” Picton said.
“A vaccine sitting in a state government fridge provides no protection to the community.”
But chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said last week SA Health vaccinated more than 33,000 people – the biggest uptake since the start of the pandemic.
She said sites were moving to increase their supply of the Pfizer vaccine and bookings.
“If we look at adults (in South Australia) – that’s 1.1 million – and our vaccination target is 80 per cent, it’s well over a third of those people have had their first dose,” she said.
“On average, it’s about 25 per cent of the population that is vaccine eligible.”
Spurrier said new evidence showed the vaccines not only reduce the severity of the disease and the hospitalisation rate, but they also stop people getting infected.
“If you do happen to get infected it (the vaccine) stops the transmission between you and another person,” she said.
“That is why we’re so absolutely keen on getting everybody vaccinated.”
It comes after National Cabinet yesterday agreed to introduce a no-fault indemnity scheme to allow GPs to administer AstraZeneca to all adults, regardless of age.
Anyone willing to talk it through with their doctor can now get the AstraZeneca jab, while Pfizer remains the preferred vaccine for under-60s.
Spurrier said she supported the decision.
“We need to make sure that vaccine is available and accessible to everybody,” she said.
“At the end of the day, with every medication, it is a patient’s choice and as long as they’ve had a robust discussion and understand the risks and if they’ve done that with their GP then it’s really up to the individual to make that decision.
“I don’t have a particular issue with this announcement.”
Two new coronavirus cases were detected in South Australia over the past 24 hours – a woman in her 40s and a man in his 50s who arrived from overseas and are currently quarantining in a medi-hotel.
The pair are not related to each other.
There are currently eight active cases in South Australia.
“That means that whilst we are in good situation in South Australia, there’s always the risk of a transmission event in a hotel and this is absolutely why I will back the Premier saying vaccination is your best form of protection,” Spurrier said.
It comes as the Queensland Government this morning announced the south-east of the state, Townsville and two islands would enter a snap three-day lockdown after two new COVID-19 cases in the community.
The lockdown will begin at 6pm on Tuesday, and lift at 6pm on Friday, unless the situation worsens.
It covers residents of Brisbane, Ipswich, Logan City, Moreton Bay, Redlands, Sunshine Coast, Noosa, Somerset, Lockyer Valley, the Scenic Rim, the Gold Coast, Townsville, Magnetic Island and Palm Island.
Spurrier said she did not want South Australia to be forced into the same situation.
“It is so harmful, it’s damaging for our economy, it’s awful for us people of our state to have those lockdown orders,” she said.
SA enforces local restrictions
State emergency coordinator and Police Commissioner Grant Stevens last night signed off on a series of new local restrictions, which are expected to be in place for one week.
- Mandatory mask wearing in “high risk settings” such as in hospitals and residential aged care and disability facilities
- Mandatory mask wearing for people providing personal care services such as hairdressers
- Mandatory mask wearing in indoor seated entertainment venues, such as cinemas and theatres, when they are over 50 per cent capacity
- Strongly recommended mask wearing on public transport, including in Ubers and taxis, or any other place where it is not possible to maintain the one person per two-square-metre physical distancing requirement
- A one person per two-square-metre physical distancing requirement in all places
- Licenced venues restricted to 50 per cent capacity (down from the previous 75 per cent cap)
- A 150-person cap at private gatherings, including for weddings and funerals
- Maximum 75 per cent capacity at seated entertainment venues
- At residential aged care facilities where less than 70 per cent of the residents have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, a resident is limited to two visitors per day
Food and alcohol consumption:
- Food and alcohol consumed indoors must be done so while seated at licensed venues
- Communal food and beverage areas (such as buffets) are not permitted
- No food preparation allowed at a bar
- Dancing is not permitted in licensed venues
- Singing is not permitted indoors, unless the singers are performing or rehearsing, or if they are singing at an educational facility
- Shisha/hookah is not permitted
- A COVID Safe Plan is required for fitness, recreation and sport activities
Spurrier said the restriction on the number of visitors to aged-care facilities was imposed in response to the vaccine rollout.
She said 89 per cent of the state’s aged care facilities would not be impacted by the restriction, as 70 per cent of their residents are vaccinated.
“That’s just an example of where we’re moving to nationally and also in South Australia,” she said.
“If we know we’ve got high rates of vaccination we can just make different decisions in terms of these sorts of restrictions.”
Stevens told ABC Radio Adelaide this morning that restricting pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafés to 50 per cent capacity would have the “greatest impact”.
“We’ve been operating for the last few months at three people per four-square-metres, which is about 75 per cent capacity, so this is a reasonable step backwards for those businesses and that’s obviously going to have an impact,” he said.
“The harsh reality is that we have a concerning situation in New South Wales, Queensland is of particular concern to Professor Spurrier and we also see that the Northern Territory and Western Australia are also taking steps to get on top of a possible outbreak there.
“I think it would be naïve to just expect that we’ve completely avoided it as well.”
Stevens said authorities could not give an “absolutely guarantee” that the restrictions would only be in place for seven days, but they were “hopeful” that the one-week period would give them sufficient time to see how other states handled their COVID outbreaks.
“It is a seven-day goal at this point in time and hopefully we can go back to where we were 24-hours ago after that seven-day period,” he said.
Australian Hotels Association SA general manager Ian Horne told InDaily he “guestimated” that the impact of the restrictions on the state’s economy would be in the order of $30 million.
He said that estimate was based on data from the Centre of Economic Studies, gathered after last November’s three-day lockdown.
“The cancellations have been the same – we are getting calls from five-star hotels to caravan parks saying the bookings are just dropping off,” he said.
“The immediate impact is on workers whose shifts are being cut or reduced, and this time they don’t have JobKeeper to fall back on.”
Meanwhile, South Australian Independent Retailers CEO Colin Shearing said some supermarkets were already facing depleting toilet paper stocks, prompted by the return of panic buying.
He told InDaily that currently, supermarkets had not imposed purchasing caps, but “that could all change in the blink of an eye”.
“It’s just moronic behaviour,” he said.
“For now, there is no problem with supplies, but the issue is because the other states have gone into lock down and because we are only a small part of the market, of course South Australia is going to feel the impacts as well.
“It’s not as bad as it was last year when we had a full lockdown, but it is definitely noticeable.”
SA Pathology tested almost 7000 people yesterday.
– with AAP
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