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SA COVID hospitalisations rise, two more deaths but cases drop

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The number of COVID-positive South Australians in hospital has increased by 58 in the past 24 hours and two more people have died, as the state recorded 3079 new cases – a significant drop from Monday.

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Premier Steven Marshall told reporters this afternoon that 285 infectious people were currently in hospital – up from 227 reported yesterday – but the number of people in intensive care had reduced down to 24.

Five COVID-positive people remain in hospital on ventilators, while two men aged in their 80s and 90s have died.

The 3079 new cases reported today is a significant reduction from yesterday’s 3829 cases, with Marshall saying the downward trend was a further indication that South Australia had or was about to reach its caseload peak.

“It is certainly well below our seven-day average,” he said.

“Very importantly, yesterday we had 4046 recovered, so more than 1000 people recovered over and above the new infections in South Australia.

“I think it gives us some optimism that the settings that we’ve put in place are reducing those numbers down.”

Marshall said he asked the state’s chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier to analyse hospitalisation rates to determine how many people were “in hospital with COVID rather than people that are in hospital for COVID”.

He said the government would release the analysis tomorrow.

“There are a large number of people who are in hospital with COVID because they got that infection, but their infection isn’t really what has driven them to go into hospital,” he said.

“It’s no where near the 50 per cent that has been reported in other states, but it is still a significant number that we do need to report.”

Marshall said there were 778 SA Health staff who were either COVID-positive or furloughed, down from 918 four days ago.

He said there were still “significant workforce shortages” across the state’s health system, but he had “positive” discussions with union representatives earlier today.

“I’m not going to sugarcoat it – these are very tough times for our health professionals,” he said.

“I think we (the government and union representatives) moved forward on a number of issues and we’re certainly committed to ongoing negotiations.”

Marshall also met with representatives from the Australian Education Union after the union’s executive yesterday decided to recommend a strike on February 2, the first day of term, unless the Government adequately addresses COVID safety concerns.

The union has called on the government to delay the start of Term 1 by two weeks to give teachers time to make safer COVID-19 plans, but Marshall said the government had declined that request following advice from SA Health and the Education Department.

“I’m quite sure that the advice that we’ve received from SA Health and the Education Department (is) the advice we need to be listening (to),” he said.

There were 25,515 tests conducted yesterday, of which 13,318 were PCR tests.

Marshall said there had been a significant increase in the number of people who were using rapid antigen tests, but he encouraged those with symptoms to still seek the more accurate PCR testing.

“There are very limited lines across South Australia for a PCR test,” he said.

“Some people have got a rapid antigen test negative result, but they have symptoms.

“They really do need to go and get that PCR test.”

It comes after the Salisbury Council called on the State Government to set up a rapid test collection point in the northern suburbs, amid spiralling COVID-19 cases and concerns people were unable to travel to the park lands distribution site to collect tests. 

Marshall said the government was in “final negotiations” with both the Salisbury and Playford Councils to open up collection sites within the next seven to 10 days.

He advised people in Adelaide’s north to seek PCR testing if they were unable to travel to the city.

New South Wales today reported a record of 36 deaths and 29,839 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Monday, while Victoria recorded 22 deaths and 20,180 cases.

Meanwhile, the government announced it would spend $30.3 million on upgrades to the existing Women’s and Children’s Hospital to keep it operating until the new hospital opened next to the city rail yards.

The funding would be used to set up 10 new treatment spaces in the hospital’s adolescent ward and paediatric emergency department.

Health Minister Stephen Wade said no additional staff would be recruited as part of the investment.

The new $1.95 billion Women’s and Children’s Hospital is scheduled to open to patients in 2027. 

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