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New exposure sites after another two infectious truck drivers enter SA

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SA Health has identified four new exposure sites – with more expected to be added later today – after another two COVID-positive truck drivers from Victoria and New South Wales entered South Australia.

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The arrival of the two infectious truck drivers yesterday brings the total number of COVID-positive drivers to have entered South Australia in the past week to five.

Chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier told reporters this afternoon that, so far, authorities were yet to detect any community transmission in South Australia, but the arrival of the drivers posed a “real risk” and a “wakeup call” to the state.

One of the drivers is a man in his 20s who travelled into South Australia yesterday after spending time in Victoria and New South Wales.

He has since returned to Victoria.

After conducting contact tracing interviews today, SA Health has listed four new exposure sites on its website.

They include:

Health authorities are currently contacting people who checked in to the sites using QR codes.

Spurrier said she was made aware at lunchtime that a second infectious truck driver visited South Australia yesterday.

She said health authorities were still interviewing the person to determine whether there are any more exposure sites that need to be added to the growing list.

“We are under extreme time pressure here to protect the South Australian community,” Spurrier said.

“It is just so important that if you receive a SMS as part of the investigations that you follow the instructions.”

It comes after two infectious truck drivers travelled through Port Augusta, Ceduna and Nundroo in the state’s north and west last week, while a third truck driver travelled to Port Wakefield and metropolitan Adelaide on Monday.

Spurrier said all five truck drivers had complied with health directions while in South Australia, including mask wearing.

She said there are approximately 240 people who have been identified as close contacts of the drivers and are currently in directed 14-day quarantine.

Of those, 75 per cent have so far returned negative test results, with authorities still waiting on results from the rest.

Meanwhile, routine wastewater testing has picked up two COVID-positive results in the Salisbury local government area and in the Hallett Cove, Lonsdale, Sheidow Park, Reynella and Morphett Vale area in Adelaide’s south.

Health authorities are now scrambling to retest the wastewater in those areas, with results expected to be made available this evening.

Spurrier said she was most concerned about the positive result in Adelaide’s southern suburbs as there have not been any recent past cases in the area.

She said the positive result in Salisbury could be traced back to the Modbury Cluster, as cases linked to that outbreak lived in Adelaide’s north.

“It may be indeed people living in that area that have had COVID and are still shedding the virus,” she said.

Spurrier said her deputy Dr Chris Lease would meet with the trucking industry this afternoon to discuss how South Australia could improve its risk controls.

She said there was a national freight policy requiring drivers to from high-risk locations such as New South Wales and Victoria to get tested every three days.

“We are picking this up very quickly, as you can see,” she said.

“The people have had their tests, we are getting the results back, but it still means that we have these public exposure sites.”

Spurrier said she understood that National Cabinet would soon meet to discuss freight industry regulations in light of the recent incursions.

She said South Australia was “very keen” to make vaccinations mandatory for truck drivers.

“But, it’s not the panacea, it’s not the silver bullet. It’s part of a whole suite of risk mitigation.”

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