The number of infectious freight workers entering South Australia once again grew over the weekend, with the latest arrivals causing headaches for contact tracers after they failed to check-in to popular truckie stops using QR codes.
On Saturday, SA Health revealed a truck driver from Victoria had tested positive late in his infectious period at the border testing site at Yamba in the Riverland.
The man in his 20s transmitted the virus to his co-driver, who returned a positive test result yesterday evening.
The discovery of the second positive case prompted SA Health to last night increase the risk of two exposure sites – the Port Augusta OTR and Yamba Caltex.
Both petrol stations have been upgraded to tier two, meaning anyone who visited them at the at-risk times must get tested and quarantine immediately.
SA Health yesterday also discovered that the driver in his 20s had visited South Australia previously on September 30 while he was likely infectious, prompting authorities to add new exposure sites in Ceduna and Renmark to the state’s growing list.
“It’s very messy and my team have been really working hard trying to piece it all together with little bits of information here and there,” chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier told ABC Radio Adelaide this morning.
“I guess it is frustrating, but it is what it is – we get the information and we have to deal with it as a state.”
Both men are currently quarantining at Tom’s Court medi-hotel.
Spurrier said SA Health was “keeping a close eye” on wastewater testing, particularly along popular freight routes, but it hadn’t identified any concerning results.
“It’s quite stressful I guess for those communities with these series of positive truck drivers coming through,” she said.
It comes as New South Wales today emerged from lockdown, with gyms, cafés, restaurants, pools, shops, hairdressers and beauticians allowed to reopen after being shut for 106 days.
The eastern state has reached over 90 per cent first-dose vaccination coverage for the eligible population, while just over 70 per cent of people in New South Wales are fully-vaccinated.
Meanwhile, just over 70 per cent of South Australians are at least partially-jabbed, with 54.7 per cent fully-vaccinated.
The Government has repeatedly insisted that South Australia’s internal restrictions will ease once 80 per cent of the state is fully vaccinated, but it is yet to reveal which restrictions will be first to go.
Asked to provide detail this morning, Premier Steven Marshall said he was still waiting on the Doherty Institute to advise the National Cabinet of which “base-line public health social measures” such as density caps needed to remain once the states start to open up.
“We still need to have basic level test, trace, isolate and quarantine regimes in place,” he said.
“That means if somebody gets infected, they still need to go into isolation and so will their close contacts.
“That’s going to continue after we move away from state lockdowns as a result of getting community transmission in South Australia.”
Marshall said South Australia’s easing of restrictions would be done in a “very prudent way” compared to other states.
“I know other states are saying, ‘well this is our pathway out’ – well their pathway out that they’re talking about at the moment is being able to go to the gym and booking in to get your hair cut,” he said.
“When they’re talking about freedom, they’re not talking about removing all restrictions – they’re gently easing to a place that we’ve been at for a very long period of time.
“We won’t be having a Freedom Day in South Australia where all internal restrictions are removed and all state borders are removed.”
Spurrier said she spent most of her days strategising South Australia’s roadmap out of lockdown.
The chief health officer said the Government was focussed on trying to vaccinate as many people as possible before the delta variant made its way across the border.
“You can understand in Victoria and New South Wales where they need a roadmap out because they’ve been locked down for so long,” she said.
“We’re in a really fortunate position where we haven’t been locked down and so what we’re trying to do – and I guess we are one of the few places in the world who can do this – is work out how do we best protect ourselves before we have it (the delta variant).”
From today, people will be able to get vaccinated at the Wayville, Pooraka, Noarlunga and Elizabeth SA Health-run vaccination clinics without requiring an appointment.
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