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Repat COVID testing site to close as SA hospitalisations drop

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The number of COVID-positive patients in hospital has dropped slightly, as SA Health reveals it will soon close one of its main PCR testing stations and move to a nearby site.

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South Australia today recorded 4986 new infections – up from yesterday’s 4401 cases – following an expected surge during the middle of the week and a 18.5 per cent increase in PCR testing.

Two people died with COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, including a woman in her 80s and a man in his 40s.

Hospitalisations dropped by 12, with SA Health today reporting 220 infectious people in hospital, including 11 people in intensive care and one on a ventilator.

There are now currently 35,052 active cases in the state, meaning about 1500 people have recovered from the virus since yesterday.

In a statement this afternoon, SA Health announced it would close the Repat PCR testing site in Daw Park on April 22 “due to infrastructure works at the precinct”.

To compensate for the loss, the government will double the capacity at the nearby 24/7 Bedford Park site from four swabbing stations to eight, with SA Pathology staff currently working at the Repat to relocate to the expanded Bedford Park site.

SA Health said the Bedford Park site collected 3891 samples over the past week, but that will increase to approximately 8000 samples per week once the new swabbing stations open.

“We don’t expect there will be any extended wait times at Bedford Park or any overall loss in the amount of people we can cater for, but as always, I encourage people to be patient and I thank our hardworking staff for their incredible efforts,” SA Pathology executive director Lucas Semmier said. 

“Staff who are currently rostered at the Repat site will be relocated to Bedford Park as well, so we don’t anticipate anyone – staff or locals – will be impacted by this closure.”

Premier Peter Malinauskas told ABC Radio Adelaide this morning that it was “good news” that COVID cases had dropped by about 1000 since last week.

He said the state was on the “downslide” of cases, but refused to speculate on whether South Australia had passed its caseload peak.

“The references to the word peak… I worry that it implies in six months’ time there won’t be another peak and, of course, we just don’t know what’s going to happen in six months or 12 months with COVID,” he said.

“We are on the downslide and that’s what the modelling tells us and that’s what the statistics tells us.”

The Premier said authorities yesterday discussed easing close contact rules at yesterday’s Emergency Management Council meeting, saying the current requirements cause “a major degree of disruption throughout the community”.

He said he had a “keen eye” on relaxing restrictions for close contacts who work in the hospitality industry, given the sector has been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

“I’m very keen to give that industry as much relief as we possibly can,” he said.

“That options not before us just at the moment.

“We’re trying to do things in a graduated way and clearly at some point in the future we have the appetite to change close contact rules.”

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