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Second removalist tests COVID positive after travelling to SA

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UPDATED: SA Health has confirmed that a second removalist who travelled to McLaren Vale from New South Wales has tested COVID-positive, while a 72-year-old South Australian woman has died after her first shot of AstraZeneca vaccine.

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It comes after Victoria’s COVID-19 commander Jeroen Wiemer told reporters this afternoon that it was his understanding that two removalists who recently travelled from New South Wales, through Victoria and into South Australia had tested positive for COVID-19.

The removalists stayed overnight in Victoria on Thursday, July 8, before driving into South Australia on Friday, July 9 and returning to NSW.

They were helping a family of four relocate from NSW to McLaren Vale and were not wearing masks for the approximate five hours they was helping unload furniture.

The family are currently in 14-day home quarantine and they have all returned two negative tests on days one and four after their arrival.

The removalists travelled with one other driver and they did not stay in South Australia overnight. The third driver has not tested positive.

Only one of the removalists – a man in his 30s – was reported as a positive case earlier this afternoon, but Wiemer told reporters at about 3pm that he had since been informed that a second removalist had tested positive.

“One of the other crew members may also have turned positive. That’s information I’ve had in the past half hour,” he said.

SA Health confirmed the second positive case to InDaily late this afternoon.

A spokesperson said South Australian health authorities were working to determine whether the removalists had visited any other sites while in the state.

SA Premier Steven Marshall told reporters earlier that there were “no known places in South Australia where these three removalists have visited”.

He said authorities were still trying to determine whether the removalists stopped off anywhere in South Australia, apart from the family’s home, before leaving the state.

“The New South Wales authorities have interviewed these removalists, the Victorian authorities have interviewed these removalists and we have also,” he said.

“We still have no known places that we are concerned about here in South Australia.”

Deputy chief public health officer Dr Emily Kirkpatrick said SA Health was working “very closely” with NSW and Victorian health authorities as they conduct their third round of contact tracing interviews.

“As soon as we have more information, particularly around if there is any additional exposure sites or exposure sites that are of concern for the community, we will be communicating that as soon as possible… so that they are aware if there is any risk,” she said.

“These individuals were in South Australia for a very short period of time – no overnight stays – and then returned back to New South Wales.

“(It’s) very pleasing that we could get those rapid tests done on the family this morning, so we feel very confident that as they’ve all come back negative… that there is no risk to the community and they have been a very compliant family undertaking strict quarantine in their house.”

Kirkpatrick said the drivers had “rest stops along the way” as they travelled back to NSW from SA, but authorities were “not aware that they have been to any locations within South Australia”.

“This is a timely reminder for the community with even the mildest of symptoms to please go get a COVID test,” she said.

Kirkpatrick said she was not aware that the removalists had done anything wrong while they were in South Australia.

Woman dies after first shot of AstraZeneca

A 72-year-old woman who lived in regional South Australia is a confirmed case of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) and died from the blood-clotting disease overnight.

She developed TTS after receiving her first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine on June 24.

The woman became unwell and was admitted to the Royal Adelaide Hospital on July 5. She passed away while in the intensive care unit.

“Our thoughts are with her family at this very sad time,” Marshall said.

“Her death, of course, has been referred to the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) as well as to the Coroner for further investigation.

“We need to wait for that TGA and that Coroner’s investigation.”

Kirkpatrick said it “is likely” that her death was related to her TTS diagnosis.

“This particular individual did meet all the criteria for a TTS diagnosis, so it didn’t go into the probable classification, it was reported as a confirmed case of TTS,” she said.

Kirkpatrick said TTS was a “rare” but “treatable” condition and urged people to still get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“We do need to think really clearly what is happening in New South Wales,” she said.

“We can almost say the risk is on par with the international arrivals at this point in time.

“When we think about that risk that we’re seeing in New South Wales, if you are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine please go and see either your GP or book in for one of our vaccine hubs.”

Kirkpatrick said symptoms of TTS included a sudden onset headache, leg, arm and abdominal pain, and fatigue.

She said the symptoms usually developed about four days after the vaccine is administered.

“This (TTS) is something that we may continue to see, particularly for people over the age of 60, so it is important if you have had the AstraZeneca vaccine regardless of your age, if you develop any of these symptoms please go and seek help from your GP,” she said.

“If you are unable to see your GP and you have symptoms, then please go to the emergency department.”

SA authorities tighten entry rules from COVID-hit NSW

Authorities will significantly tighten requirements for returning South Australians who arrive in the state from Greater Sydney after NSW recorded another 112 new cases of COVID-19 today, marking the worst day of the outbreak to date.

From midnight tonight, returning South Australians travelling from Greater Sydney will not be allowed to apply for an exemption online.

“Exemptions will be provided, but on a much narrower basis where people can very clearly identify that they will be able to quarantine separate from anybody else at home and there will be a higher level scrutiny,” Marshall said.

“We will have that… online exemptions process for regional New South Wales and also the ACT, but (for) those people coming from Greater Sydney, a much higher level of scrutiny will be applied.”

Last week 950 returning South Australians arrived from New South Wales.

“We want to seriously turn that tap off,” Marshall said.

Kirkpatrick said that authorities would examine each application on a case-by-case basis.

“We will then have that oversight as well as to where people are coming from,” she said.

“It won’t be simply a tick-box exercise… it will require people to step through where their movements have been in New South Wales and also where they’re planning to undertake quarantine here in South Australia.”

People who are travelling from Greater Sydney to South Australia to escape domestic and family violence will need to go into 14-day hotel quarantine as soon as they arrive.

Previously, there were only required to get tested on days one, five and 13 after they arrived.

South Australia will also “very significantly increasing” the testing requirements for truck and freight drivers.

Marshall said authorities would discuss changes with industry leaders over the next 24 hours.

He said there would be no changes to the restrictions for border communities including Broken Hill and Wentworth, whose residents are able to travel into South Australia as part of a bubble arrangement.

Police Commissioner and state emergency coordinator Grant Stevens said he was “hopeful” that by restricting movement from NSW, South Australia could keep its current level of internal restrictions.

“I can’t envisage any changes coming out of transmission committee for South Australia specifically, but we’ll certainly be looking at our borders again, particularly for Queensland,” he said.

South Australia recorded two new coronavirus cases today, both of which returned from overseas and have been in medi-hotel since their arrival.

There have been 821 cases in South Australia since the start of the pandemic, 20 of which are currently active.

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