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Search for customers after Tailem Bend servo named 'high risk' exposure site

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UPDATED | SA Health has listed a café in Tailem Bend as an exposure site while another location is being investigated as health authorities work to track down at least 18 people who visited a Shell service station in the town late Friday afternoon, after a Sydney removalist spent time inside before testing COVID positive.

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Anyone who visited the Shell service station at Tailem Bend between 5.20pm and 7pm on Friday, July 9 must get tested and isolate with other members of their household immediately.

Health authorities have declared the service station a “high risk” exposure site and are currently analysing CCTV footage and traffic data to determine how many people visited the site at the same time as the infected removalist.

So far, they have identified 18 close contacts who checked-in to the service station using QR codes during the at-risk period.

However, authorities are still unsure how many people visited the service station without checking-in.

SA Health on Tuesday afternoon said the Coolabah Tree Cafe in Tailem Bend, adjacent to the service station, has been identified as a “potential” exposure site.

Anyone who was at the cafe between 5:20pm and 7:00pm on Friday, July 9 must get tested and isolate along with their household contacts for 14 days.

SA Health also said a third exposure site is “currently being investigated”.

One of two service station employees who was working during the at-risk period is currently symptomatic.

Both workers and another household contact underwent rapid gene-expert testing this morning and have returned negative results. SA Health says they will remain in home quarantine for 14 days.

Deputy chief public health officer Dr Emily Kirkpatrick said she was unsure whether the symptomatic worker was out in the community since July 9.

It comes after two of three removalists who travelled from Western Sydney, through Victoria and into South Australia tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday after helping a family relocate to McLaren Vale.

They spent about five hours helping unload furniture at the family’s McLaren Vale home, but SA Health says they did not visit any other places while in the region.

One removalist – a man in his 30s – was a close contact of a positive case linked to the Sydney outbreak and is confirmed to be infected with the highly-contagious delta variant of the disease.

He was informed while he was in South Australia that he was a close contact and authorities believe he remained in the cabin of his truck while his two colleagues entered the Tailem Bend service station.

The pair – one of whom was likely infectious – entered the service station wearing masks, but they took their masks off while they were eating and drinking.

They spent about 30 minutes at the service station before leaving.

The third removalist has not tested positive for COVID-19.

Deputy chief public health officer Emily Kirkpatrick. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Kirkpatrick said she was concerned that the removalist entered the service station while infectious with the Delta variant of the disease.

She said it was a “concern” that authorities had only identified the service station as an exposure site today – four days after the infectious removalist visited the site.

“We know the Delta variant is extremely contagious, we know there’s that quick timeline that can occur between exposure and developing symptoms or becoming contagious, so it is very, very important for people to be mindful of this,” she said.

“We are stepping through a CCTV review to find out what exactly happened inside that service station and to identify any other potential risks for the South Australian community.

“We had a comprehensive risk assessment undertaken at SA Health this morning to step through what the risk is for those people who have been there and also for the workers of this site.

“We will be calling this a high risk site.”

Kirkpatrick said the service station is currently the only exposure site known to authorities.

She was unable to confirm whether the petrol station had been closed and cleaned.

“We can confirm that there are no exposure sites, or no locations within the McLaren Vale area or metropolitan Adelaide where those individuals have gone out of their truck to access services,” she said.

“(That’s) very, very reassuring for the South Australian community, but, of course, we are still stepping through this.”

Kirkpatrick said contact tracing progress had been hampered by language barriers, as two of the removalists do not speak English as their first language.

“We have been able to get a very good history from the third truck driver who tested negative around their movements,” she said.

“We have to also remember, it’s difficult often to exactly piece together where you have been if you are not a South Australian resident and you’ve travelled through different jurisdictions.

“These individuals didn’t QR check-in either here in South Australia, so that has also been a factor in this as to why it has taken time to step through where they have been.”

Kirkpatrick said the removalists had cooperated with contact tracers.

She urged people to use QR code check-ins and to get tested if they develop COVID-19 symptoms.

Meanwhile, Premier Steven Marshall announced that as of one minute past midnight on Friday morning, travellers from southeast Queensland will no longer be required to quarantine at home for 14 days upon entering South Australia.

However, they will still need to get tested on days one, five and 13 after their arrival.

The state’s transition committee this morning decided to keep South Australia’s border restrictions in place with the ACT, amid fears about the territory’s porous border with New South Wales.

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