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Restrictions to stay amid concerns over Broken Hill case


A new COVID case in Broken Hill has South Australian authorities on high alert, with the Police Commissioner saying restrictions won’t be eased and the virus could already be here in the community undetected.

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It comes as an investigation report into a major medi-hotel breach in Adelaide will be handed to Police Commissioner Grant Stevens today, but is unlikely to be released in full publicly.

Speaking a short time ago after a meeting of the state’s transmission committee, Stevens said no changes would be made “at this point in time” to current restrictions and directions in SA.

He said authorities were very concerned about the spread of COVID interstate, particularly with a case detected in Broken Hill overnight.

“That does elevate our concerns for that community,” he said.

“We are doing some work in conjunction with New South Wales to track the origins of that particular positive case and what the implications are for regional South Australia and the greater Adelaide area as well.

“We are concerned about activity in Broken Hill and the impact that might have on regional and vulnerable communities in South Australia.

“On that basis we are not making any further changes (to ease restrictions) at this point in time.”

Authorities have previously warned South Australians to expect another case and possible outbreak here at some stage.

Today Stevens said “the reality is we may already have that case”.

“If people aren’t going to get tested then we may not find out about it for days and if that’s the situation we could find ourselves in a very precarious situation, facing another lockdown,” he said.

“No one wants that.

“We can all play our part by making sure we take steps to prevent the transmission and identify quickly through testing if you have any symptoms whatsoever.”

NSW Health’s Jeremy McAnulty this morning told reporters the new case in Broken Hill “has been infectious for some days and has been in Broken Hill and Wilcannia”.

“Contact tracing is under way and identified contacts are being tested and isolating and that work is continuing to identify the potential source of that infection,” he said.

Stevens said “we actually have border restrictions in place now for Broken Hill – we’ve removed their ability to travel into SA – so there’s no need for any further changes there”.

“We’ll continue to monitor the consequences of this positive case to see what it means for us in terms of our relationship with Broken Hill,” he said.

Stevens said “the reality is the risk that we are facing from New South Wales, Victoria particularly and the ACT is so significant that we don’t believe that this is the right time to make any further changes”.

“All aspects of the directions were discussed but we are holding where we are at the moment,” he said.

South Australia’s borders remain closed to NSW, Victoria, Queensland, the ACT and parts of the Northern Territory.

Stevens said the transition committee was likely to meet again later in the week to reconsider restrictions “particularly with our borders as they relate to Queensland.”

“The sooner we get past this and we can open up our borders I think the better for everybody,” he said.

“But at the moment what we are facing in terms of the spread of the Delta strain and the spread of the virus in NSW and Victoria and ACT dictates that we have these levels of protection in place.”

Stevens said local density caps in public venues were “likely to be in place for a bit longer”.

“I can’t imagine there will be any movement on those in the next week or so but they will be monitored,” he said.

“But we are looking at freeing up family gatherings and those sorts of things if we can do that without increasing risk.”

Stevens said an investigation report into a major breach at the Grand Chancellor medi-hotel – in which a man allegedly left quarantine and spent eight hours in the community – would be provided to him today.

“I’m not in a position to make any comment at this point but I’m sure I’ll be able to say something tomorrow,” he said.

“In all likelihood I will make a statement regarding the outcome of the inquiry.

“I don’t imagine that I’m going to release the report itself but I will make sure people have an understanding of what’s occurred and the outcomes from the inquiry.”

Asked why he was unlikely to release the report in full, he said “this is an internal police document and it’s examined processes”.

“I don’t imagine there’s a requirement for me to release this report,” he said.

“As long as the findings and the outcomes are made clear and transparent then I think that serves the purpose that people are seeking and that’s to understand what’s happened and what we’ve done about it.”

The returned international traveller, who has tested negative to COVID, allegedly left the Grand Chancellor medi-hotel at 10pm on August 12 and returned voluntarily to the medi-hotel about 6am the following morning.

-with AAP

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