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Extensive new restrictions for South Australia from midnight as new cases revealed


UPDATED: South Australia will be plunged into severe restrictions from midnight, including the closure of “non-essential” shops, indoor fitness centres and personal care services, as well as a ban on team and club sport, caps of 10 for private gatherings including weddings and funerals and further density limits on public venues.

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The clampdown was announced late this afternoon, as authorities revealed a second case of COVID-19 in the community, linked to an 81-year-old man who tested positive this morning.

SA Health has since revealed a third positive case linked to the man but won’t disclose the relationship, other than to say it’s a man in his 50s who is a “close contact”.

At a press conference this afternoon, authorities revealed the 81-year-old man’s daughter had tested positive and both she and her father had spent time in the community.

Premier Steven Marshall said “we’ve only got one chance to get this right” to prevent the state going into a full lockdown.

The new restrictions include:

People are also being urged to avoid non-essential travel and strongly encouraged to work from home.

Marshall acknowledged the restrictions would be felt hard by the community but said “we do this because we only get one chance to stay in front of this disease”.

“If we wait until we get all of the reliable information it can be too late,” he said.

“We don’t want the long-term heavy restrictions we are seeing in other parts of the world and Australia.”

Marshall said the restrictions would be in place until at least Friday when they would be reviewed.

Schools will remain open.

Shops for food and food production, laundromats, banks, post offices, fuel stations and hardware stores are among outlets that will be allowed to stay open.

SA Police Commissioner and state emergency coordinator Grant Stevens said the restrictions were “not a lockdown” although “it might seem like that”.

“That is a significant next step that we hope we don’t have to take,” he said.

“We have a scenario now that compels us to take decisive action.

“We have just one shot we get to get ahead of this, people will judge the decisions we’ve made today with the benefit of hindsight sometime in the future.”

An 81-year-old man who had recently been in Argentina and New South Wales tested positive to the virus early this morning, after being taken to Modbury Hospital with respiratory symptoms.

Authorities are treating his case as the highly infectious Delta variant, with results to confirm that expected tomorrow.

His daughter initially tested negative but has since returned a positive test.

The man arrived in South Australia on July 8 from New South Wales where authorities say he had done 14 days of quarantine in a medi-hotel and hospital and tested negative, following his return from Argentina.

Officials said he developed symptoms on the weekend, after spending more than a week in the South Australian community.

It’s unclear at this stage where he caught the virus.

The man had received his first vaccine dose while in Argentina.

A series of exposure sites have been identified – largely in the north-eastern suburbs – with more expected, and anyone who has been there during times of concern has been ordered to go into quarantine and get tested, along with their families in many of the cases.

Authorities have also ordered 16 of the man’s close contacts into quarantine and to get tested.

The man’s grandson has so far tested negative.

Elizabeth Vale School – where the man’s grandson is a teacher – closed for today “out of an abundance of caution” to make sure he had not been there during the school holidays.

It’s planned to reopen tomorrow.

The 81-year-old man was taken to Modbury Hospital’s extended emergency care unit yesterday, before testing positive to the virus at 2.30 this morning.

The hospital’s entire emergency department has since been closed and the man has been transferred to the Royal Adelaide Hospital’s COVID ward.

This morning, chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said 27 patients who were “in the vicinity” of the man would be transferred to the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

A further 57 staff have been ordered into hotel quarantine.

Exposure sites identified this afternoon included:

At this stage, people who have been to Wigley Reserve during the time of concern are not required to quarantine or get tested but to monitor for symptoms and get tested as soon as they develop.

Quarantine and testing is required for people – and in some cases their families – who have been to the other listed exposure sites during the relevant times.

Further sites were added on Monday night, including The Greek on Halifax restaurant in the city on Saturday July 17 from 6pm to 10pm.

SA Health will update the list on its website as more information becomes available.

Spurrier said it “made sense” to impose restrictions for the whole of the state, rather than parts of it.

“We’ve had school holidays and we’ve had lots of people travelling to different parts of the state,” she said.

“The other reason is what’s been happening in Victoria on the other side of the border in Mildura and our concerns for the Riverland area.”

Meanwhile, the South Australian Salaried Medical Officers Association (SASMOA) says code yellows – internal emergencies – have been declared at two major metropolitan Adelaide health networks this evening. 

SASMOA says the Central Adelaide Local Health Network – which covers the Royal Adelaide and Queen Elizabeth hospitals – and the Northern Adelaide Local Health Network – which covers Lyell McEwin and Modbury Hospital – have declared “major incidents” across their networks. 

The Ambulance Employees Association is also reporting that the South Australian Ambulance Service has declared a major incident due to staff shortages, with paramedics facing quarantine after the  Modbury Hospital ED was listed as an exposure site.

It comes after the ambulance union reported that an internal emergency was called at the Royal Adelaide Hospital this afternoon, linking it to an influx of patients from Modbury Hospital’s closed emergency department.

It is the second time in two weeks an internal emergency has been called at the RAH, after a major incident was declared across the Central Adelaide Health Network last Tuesday.

The ambulance union said the latest major incident was declared over the hospital’s PA system around 1:45pm on Monday.

The declaration followed a transfer of 27 emergency patients to the RAH from the locked-down emergency department at Modbury Hospital.

At 1:30pm on Monday, SA Health’s Ambulance Service Dashboard showed 40 patients in the RAH emergency department waiting for an in-patient bed, with nearly 100 patients waiting across Adelaide’s metropolitan hospitals.

The average wait time to be seen by a clinician in the RAH emergency department at 3pm was 101 minutes.

Average wait times at the Flinders Medical Centre and the Lyell McEwin Hospital were more than 160 minutes.

All six Adelaide hospitals were listed at “Code White” – over capacity – by 2pm.

The ambulance union said the recent internal emergency declaration showed the vulnerability of the health system to COVID-related incidents.

“This is the impact of one COVID positive case in SA,” the association tweeted.

“We are unprepared, underfunded and under-resourced.”

Spurrier said earlier today that “obviously when we make decisions about closing parts of a hospital, it has big impacts on our healthcare system”.

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