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Staff tested as SA parliament hit by COVID

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The state parliament house library has been closed and several building staff sent home after an employee tested positive to COVID.

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In an email sent this morning to all building workers, including MPs and their staff, Legislative Council clerk Chris Schwarz and acting House of Assembly clerk David Pegram said: “Regrettably, a Library member of staff has been positively diagnosed with COVID-19.”

Colleagues of the positive case “who have identified as close contacts” are also undertaking PCR testing, they said.

“Given the uncertainty, and to minimise risk to the Parliament, the Library site will remain closed for the entire week, commencing Monday January 10,” said the email, which has been seen by InDaily.

Parliament has not sat since late last year, however the Legislative Council is scheduled to return for three days early next month, before writs are issued for the March 19 state election.

Legislative Council president John Dawkins said it would be necessary for some staff to continue working in other areas of the building but that they had been reminded “if you’re in the common areas of the building to keep your mask on and try to limit face-to-face conversations”.

He said parliament officers were “being very cautious” with the library closure.

“They’ve done everything right,” he said.

“The person got tested late on Friday and got the result yesterday – I was alerted to it yesterday.”

Dawkins said senior office holders and building staff met via Microsoft Teams last week to discuss limiting the number of people in the building in any case, but “that doesn’t mean no-one’s in the building”.

“I was in there for a little while on Thursday, and will be again this week… we have to have some staff there anyway,” he said.

However, he noted that several offices have “staff on leave at the moment” and “where it’s possible to work from home, that’s happening”.

The email said other library staff would now work from home, “where able to”.

“However, given the circumstances, the delivery of the full range of Library services will not be possible,” it said.

“The Library intends to manage core services (media monitoring and research services) where possible, though with potentially reduced numbers of staff available to work a certain immediacy may be lacking.

“The Library very much regrets this development and will monitor the situation over the coming week.”

It comes as Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas was last week forced to quarantine after catching COVID, with his wife and three children subsequently also testing positive.

Greens MLC Robert Simms also tested positive this month, after taking a PCR test on New Year’s Eve.

He said he was now on his tenth day in isolation and had been “feeling better the last few days”.

“But it certainly knocked me out basically for a week,” he said.

“I’ve been pretty unwell.”

He said he was “looking forward to being able to step outside by tiny apartment” when his quarantine was finished.

Premier Steven Marshall, who remains in isolation as a close contact of his COVID-positive adult daughter, returned a negative PCR test yesterday.

He told ABC Radio Adelaide today that he had been offered the chance “to have a test done at home but I went down to Victoria Park”.

However, he said his test results had been fast-tracked.

“I did get a very speedy response because [SA Pathology boss] Professor Tom Dodd wanted to find out whether I was positive or not, because that would have had implications for the media and Professor Nicola Spurrier [with whom he had been in recent contact, with a press conference last Friday],” he said.

“So I was negative but I did receive a fast response because of the danger of my position with those two critical groups.”

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