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COVID cases test new SA exposure site cleaning and contact rules


The first COVID-19 cases since South Australia opened to travellers have served as an initial test of SA Health’s new exposure site cleaning and contact isolation rules, which were relaxed at the same time as border restrictions.

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Casual contact exposure sites, such as the Krispy Kreme at Adelaide Airport connected to a positive case who flew in from Sydney on Wednesday, were listed by SA Health as per usual.

But under the new response model, SA Health say the cleaning requirements are less onerous and fewer people will have to isolate.

It comes as SA Health released an expanded list of exposure sites, including a Torrensville bakery, a Chinese restaurant at Berri and supermarkets at Mawson Lakes and Elizabeth, arising from three positive COVID-19 cases who flew into Adelaide after borders reopened on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for SA Health confirmed to InDaily that “the new regulations have been implemented now”, and provided a document detailing the updated rules.

Whereas before a sufficiently serious exposure site would have been closed down for deep cleaning, the new SA Health advice now recommends that “routine cleaning processes are adequate”.

This can be done overnight so as not to disrupt normal business hours. If premises are notified during business hours, they may need to close for a short time to undertake cleaning,” it said.

The venue will only be required to close if they are notified during business hours, cleaning cannot occur outside business hours, or if there are insufficient staff available to stay open.

Once the clean is complete, the business can re-open without any other requirements, unless SA Health advised otherwise.

Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier last week explained that the new cleaning protocol is based on enhanced understanding of how the virus spread, and aims to ease the burden on affected businesses.

“With time it’s become very obvious, particularly with Delta, that aerosol transmission is very important and the fomite [surface] transmission is not as important, so we are changing the cleaning protocols for businesses because of that,” she said.

“It’s just a standard clean, however, a standard clean is not just a ‘spit and polish’, it’s actually a proper clean.”

The system for determining whether contacts at exposure sites need to isolate has also been relaxed.

Close contacts who live with, had extensive social contact with, or interacted with a positive case at a high-risk setting will need to enter isolation immediately and get tested multiple times.

That applies to those seated in rows 1-4 near the infected passenger on the Qantas QF733 flight from Sydney that arrived at 10:15 on Wednesday.

Vaccinated close contacts must quarantine for seven days, while unvaccinated close contacts still have to do 14 days.

Casual contacts exposed to a COVID-19 case with some risk of transmission based on the duration of exposure, vaccination status, lack of mask use, indoor settings or the nature of exposure will only have to quarantine until they get a negative test.

That rule applies to passengers seated further away from the positive case on the Sydney flight, or anyone at the Krispy Kreme at the same time as the infected person.

A low-risk casual contact — defined as a person who has been in the same setting with a confirmed case in their infectious period with no added transmission dangers — does not have to do anything at all other than monitor for symptoms.

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