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'High alert': SA bracing for tighter restrictions following new COVID case

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New restrictions will be announced for South Australia later today, after a new “concerning” case of COVID-19, which has already forced the closure of Modbury Hospital’s emergency department and a northern suburbs school.

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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.

Earlier today, Premier Steven Marshall told South Australians to brace for more restrictions but he said there were no plans for a state-wide lockdown at this stage.

“There are going to be additional restrictions put in place later today but it’s very unlikely we are going to be announcing a lockdown in South Australia,” he said.

“Now is not a time to be complacent. We are on high alert in South Australia at the moment. Let’s not take any chances.”

Health authorities said the man returned to South Australia on July 8 after completing 14 days of quarantine in a medi-hotel and hospital in New South Wales.

He spent time in the community – with a number of exposure sites now identified – before developing symptoms over the weekend and he was taken to hospital yesterday.

His daughter – who also travelled to Argentina with him – and his grandson are among 16 close contacts.

The man’s daughter and grandson have so far tested negative to the virus and authorities are a still waiting for results for other close contacts.

Secondary contacts at risk are also being contacted.

His grandson’s school – Elizabeth Vale Primary – was closed today “out of an abundance” of caution but authorities expect it to reopen tomorrow.

The man was vaccinated with a single dose while in Argentina.

Authorities believe he has the Delta variant of COVID but are awaiting detailed results.

Anyone who has come into contact with the man has been ordered into 14 days of quarantine.

Chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said the man’s initial test “did suggest he was quite infectious”.

“SA Pathology were able to run some serology this morning… this was an acute infection with a high viral load so that’s what we will be treating this as,” she said.

“It is a very serious situation we have now in South Australia, with this positive COVID case.”

Spurrier said it’s believed the man’s most infectious period was from July 14 until now.

“He did come into the state a little bit before that so we’re going to be doing contact tracing right back until the 8th but we’re focusing on this higher risk period,” she said.

Exposure sites so far identified include:

The exposure sites have different levels of risk. The SA Health website has details about what you should do if you have been to any of them, including whether you need to quarantine and be tested.

Marshall said there would likely be further exposure sites announced this afternoon.

Spurrier said 27 patients and 25 staff who were “in the vicinity” of the man at Modbury Hospital have been placed into quarantine and are being tested.

She said the man was taken to the emergency department’s extended care unit and put in a pressure room when he was brought in.

The entire ED has been closed for now.

Elizabeth Vale School principal Julie Murphy told families: “SA Health has informed us that a member of our school community may have come into contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19”.

“Out of an abundance of caution our school will be shut for today (Monday 19 July),” she wrote in a notice.

“This is to allow SA Health to establish if there is any risk to the community.

“We will reopen as soon as public health officials indicate that we can.”

Marshall said authorities would meet again this afternoon and hoped to have further test results back to identify what level of restrictions would be needed for the community.

“It is very likely that there will be further internal restrictions put in place in South Australia later today, but at this stage we do not envisage a lockdown situation immediately,” he said.

Marshall said there was “no need for a run to the shop urgently in South Australia… we need to gather more information”.

“The Elizabeth Vale Primary School was practically put into a closed down situation until we could be absolutely 100 per cent sure that the grandson was not at the school during the break,” he said.

“That has now been confirmed and Elizabeth Vale Primary School will open tomorrow.”

SA Police Commissioner and state emergency coordinator Grant Stevens said: “I can safely say that we’ll be imposing more restrictions on the South Australian community this afternoon.”

“The extent of those restrictions are yet to be determined and we’ll be having conversations very shortly after leaving this (press conference),” he said.

It comes after South Australia tightened its eastern borders with Victoria and NSW overnight after a COVID-19 infection was recorded in Mildura.

People who have travelled from Mildura Local Government Area since July 11, 2021, are required to quarantine for 14 days since arrival in SA and will be required to receive a COVID-19 test on days one, five & 13.

The NSW cross border corridor is now limited to the local government area of Broken Hill and communities in SA including Manna Hill, Olary, Tiaklina and Cockburn.

The NSW town of Wentworth, around 45km north of Mildura, has been excluded from the corridor.

People are encouraged to limit their travel in and out of the Riverland area and are advised to seek testing for even the mildest of symptoms if they have been in this region.

The Mildura infection reported on Sunday was from a man who had presented to hospital with COVID-19 symptoms after attending the Carlton-Geelong AFL match at the MCG the previous weekend.

Travellers outside of the corridor are no longer permitted to enter South Australia unless an essential traveller or permitted arrival. Cross border corridor residents will still be permitted to enter SA, although only for a strict number of reasons.

SA residents outside of the corridor travelling to Broken Hill are now only able to do so for essential work or with a health exemption.

The Victorian cross border corridor has been reduced to 40km, down from 70km, and the reasons that people are permitted to travel have also been reduced.

The cross-border corridor reasons for travel include: employment or education; providing care and support to, or receiving care and support from, another person; obtaining food, petrol or other fuel or medical care or supplies; or, obtaining a COVID-19 vaccination.

All South Australians returning from Victoria must now self-quarantine for 14 days and get tested on day one, five and 13.

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