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Tailem Bend still under spotlight as Melbourne cases linked to NSW removalists rise

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A third Tailem Bend venue remains under SA Health investigation as a potential exposure site, following a service station and cafe visited by infected NSW removalists, as Victoria records new COVID-19 cases also connected to the Sydney-based crew.

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A crew of three Sydney removalists who had just relocated a New South Wales family to McLaren Vale visited the Shell service station at Tailem Bend on Friday, July 9, with two testing positive for COVID after returning home.

SA Health listed the station as an exposure site on Tuesday morning, with anyone on site between 5:20pm and 7:00pm last Friday required to immediately get tested and isolate for 14 days along with their household contacts.

The same test and isolate order applies for the Coolabah Tree Café next to the service station, which health authorities late yesterday named as a second exposure site for the same time period on Friday.

SA Health says 13 QR code check-ins were recorded at the café during the exposure period, as well as 19 at the service station.

Premier Steven Marshall said this morning that all identified contacts at the service station – and their household contacts – have tested negative overnight.

“It’s a sigh of relief but of course we know that the incubation period for this disease can be 14 days,” he said.

“So we’re not out of the woods yet.”

Authorities are yet to determine how many people were present at the site during the exposure period without checking in, although the premier said 60 people have now “proactively” contacted SA Health indicating they may have been there at one of the designated times.

A potential third exposure site in Tailem Bend remains under investigation and is yet to be revealed by SA Health.

The premier said details of the site would be revealed “as soon as it’s verified”.

“We’re not certain that there is a further third exposure in Tailem Bend,” he said.

“That’s something that’s being contemplated at the moment, when we have something further to report we’ll certainly do it as quickly as possible.”

He added that the NSW removalists were being “very cooperative” but authorities are “trying to ascertain whether there was in fact another stop in Tailem Bend”.

“We believe it’s unlikely but we’re just chasing down every single potential opportunity that this disease has got out into our community,” Marshall said.

One of two Shell service station employees who was working during the at-risk period is symptomatic but both workers have tested negative after undergoing rapid gene-expert testing on Tuesday morning.

SA Health says they will remain in home quarantine for 14 days along with their household contacts.

Meanwhile, Victoria has recorded seven new COVID-19 cases today, four of which are linked to the Ariele Apartments complex in northern Melbourne where the NSW removalists worked before entering SA.

The apartment block, which has more than 200 residents, has been in lockdown since Monday evening after the COVID-positive removalists did an equipment pick up on Thursday, July 8.

Among the new cases is a man in his 60s who subsequently infected his parents, who are aged in their 80s and live in Craigieburn.

The man attended an AFL match between Carlton and Geelong on Saturday and was seated in level two of the MCC section of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and also visited a shopping centre.

The removalists did a drop off at a Craigieburn home on the same day and visited several petrol stations and fast-food restaurants in Victoria which have been listed as tier-one exposure sites.

The remaining new case is a man in his 30s who attended Coles Craigieburn on Saturday at the same time as a member of a family who recently returned from Sydney while infected with COVID-19.

Victorian authorities said three members of the family flew into Melbourne on July 4, while a fourth drove back on Thursday.

The family, who live in the local government area of Hume, tested negative shortly after arrival but two became symptomatic and were swabbed again on Sunday, returning positive results on Monday morning.

A third family member tested positive on Tuesday, while the fourth tested positive on Wednesday.

COVID-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar urged anyone who has visited an exposure site or has symptoms to get tested.

“The next two days are particularly critical,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

“We are right on the heels of this particular outbreak.”

-With AAP

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