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COVID case detected in South Australian teen a 'false positive'


UPDATED | A South Australian teenager who tested positive to COVID after travelling to New South Wales last week has been confirmed as a “false positive”, while the state’s transition committee today announced it will lift some dancing and drinking restrictions in coming days.

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Chief Public Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier this afternoon revealed a male teenager had received a “weak positive” COVID result last Friday when he travelled from South Australia to New South Wales and was tested.

“I think the way things are looking it probably would be a false positive but I don’t want to jump the gun,” she said at the time, adding that five close contacts of the teenager were also in quarantine as a precaution and had all tested negative.

But late this afternoon SA Health confirmed the result was a “false positive” and that the state had no new COVID cases.

NSW Health has reviewed results regarding a teenager who travelled from South Australia to New South Wales last week and determined it is a false positive,” a statement said.

Spurrier said after the teenager’s initial result, blood tests were conducted which “came back as indeterminate”. The teenager had two subsequent swabs which were negative.

She said the teenager had been in Port Augusta and Adelaide before travelling to NSW so there had been a chance he could be linked to the cases of truck drivers who had previously tested positive.

“This was a young person that lives in South Australia and they went to NSW, so they’ve got a family in each state,” she said.

“But… as everybody knows we’ve had truck drivers who have been positive in our state and my information at the moment is that this person was in Port Augusta and also down in Adelaide and so there could have been some overlap with those truck drivers because we’ve had those six people that have come into our state as positive.”

Meanwhile, the state’s transition committee this morning decided to allow up to 50 people to dance at one time at private functions and activities from one minute past midnight on Thursday morning.

No changes have been made to the number of people allowed at private activities and functions – currently capped at 150 – but people will from Thursday be allowed to drink alcohol while standing outdoors at licensed venues, including in beer gardens.

Authorities have also agreed to remove a testing requirement for travellers coming into South Australia from Greater Brisbane at one minute past midnight on Saturday morning.

Police Commissioner and state emergency coordinator Grant Stevens told reporters after this morning’s meeting that he received advice from Spurrier urging him not to lift dancing or drinking restrictions.

He said he had a “constructive discussion” with her, but he ultimately made the decision to lift restrictions given the “high levels of compliance” of people wearing face masks, as well as frustration from the community.

“The reality is we’ve done exceptionally well in South Australia,” he said.

“But, it’s important to identify the fact that, if we do have concerns in relation to seeding from other places into South Australia, these things that we’re announcing now will be the first things that come off the table when we start to tighten things up to protect the South Australian community.

“It’s about continually balancing that risk.”

Stevens said despite being satisfied with the compliance in South Australia, authorities were finding it difficult to find concessions to make changes to restrictions without “substantially increasing risk”.

Home gatherings remain capped at 20 people and no changes have been made to face mask requirements.

Authorities this morning discussed a “pathway forward” once South Australia reaches even 80 per cent double-dose vaccination coverage, but Stevens said it was “too early” for him to publicly reveal what is being considered.

“That’s an ongoing discussion for transition committee, the chief executive of SA Health, DPC (Department of the Premier and Cabinet) and SAPOL,” he said.

“We’re hopeful that we’ll reach the 80 per cent vaccination target well before Christmas, but that sits on the shoulders of all South Australians to go and get vaccinated and help us achieve that so we can then implement a way forward post an 80 per cent vaccination rate.”

Authorities today opened a walk-in vaccination clinic at the SA Produce Market in Pooraka to try to boost vaccination rates in the northern suburbs.

“I want to make sure that every South Australian, regardless of where you live, regardless of your circumstances, that it is easy to get a vaccine,” Spurrier said.

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