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New SA warning as another truckie tests positive

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A New South Wales truck driver who twice drove through South Australia last week has tested positive for COVID-19, prompting public warnings over new exposure sites.

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Chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier told media late this afternoon the truckie, who tested negative before beginning his journey, delivered freight to Western Australia before returning to NSW, driving via SA both times.

“This is what the situation is now for us in SA… we’ll have to see how things pan out over the next 24 hours,” she said.

“We’re right in the middle of this investigation.”

COVID is going to come to our state, it’s inevitable

Spurrier said the man, in his 20s, wore a mask during his journey “but I’m not sure if he was wearing it all the time”.

He had also had one COVID vaccination, with Spurrier saying “he was on his way to being fully vaccinated”.

Spurrier said after returning a negative test on September 14th, Tuesday last week, he travelled through SA stopping at “a number of locations during the 15th and 16th” before arriving in WA.

He then returned to SA on the 18th, en route to NSW, and begin to feel unwell that same day.

Spurrier said he initially “put those symptoms down to the fact he’d been driving a long time and was fatigued”, but after his symptoms worsened “he went on and got himself tested” after returning to NSW.

“We are certainly very concerned about this in SA,” Spurrier said.

She also revealed the truckie was traveling with another driver, who was tested on September 20 and returned a negative result.

“That’s very good news because that person was in close proximity in the cab,” Spurrier said.

Two sites in Penong, an Eyre Peninsula town around 73km west of Ceduna, have been listed as Tier One exposure sites: a shower block on the Eyre Highway, which the driver attended on the 15th between 9.30pm and 11.20pm, and a Caltex service station in Penong which he visited on the 18th between 3.30pm and 5.30pm, again using the shower facilities.

“If you were at those sites at those times you and your family need to go into quarantine,” Spurrier said, noting “we’re already a week from those exposures”.

Several lower-tier exposure sites have now been published by SA Health.

“This is not a time to think, ‘wow aren’t we lucky, we’re in a COVID-free state,” she warned.

“This is truly a pandemic and we need to do everything we can to protect ourselves and our community.

“The COVID disease is going to come to our state – it is inevitable… the only way we can protect ourselves is to get vaccinated [and] we also need to have our public health restrictions…and the community needs to remember to QR check-in.”

The new case follows a recent spate of positive cases detected in truck drivers travelling through SA, with six cases detected in the first week of September.

Meanwhile, WA authorities say at this stage the coronavirus case will not impact on the AFL grand final due to be held in Perth on Saturday.

That state’s Health Minister Roger Cook said he was confident the risk to the wider community was low, given the pair were only in WA about 48 hours, from September 16 to 17.

Cook said the discovery of the man’s infection would not prompt any immediate changes to arrangements for the AFL grand final where a capacity crowd was expected at Optus Stadium.

But he said that could change if there were more infections.

“It really depends on the positive cases and the background to those cases,” he said.

“If there’s a mystery component, that gives us greater causes for concern.”

-with AAP

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