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Eleven more SA COVID deaths, ICU and ventilation numbers rise


South Australia has recorded 11 COVID deaths – up from three yesterday – while the number of patients in intensive care and on ventilation also rose as the State Government prepares to unveil more details about its back to school plan.

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Speaking a short time ago, Premier Steven Marshall said five of today’s COVID deaths were from residential aged care homes, although he cautioned that today’s record day of deaths may be due to a “backlog” as there are “no urgent reporting requirements from residential aged care facilities into SA Health related to COVID”.

Today’s deaths consist of two women and nine men. Two were in their 50s, three in their 70s, four in their 80s and two in their 90s.

It comes as South Australia recorded another 3777 COVID-19 cases today, up from 3482 cases reported on Wednesday, although Marshall said the figure is “still below the seven day average” and “not statistically relevant”.

“We’ll get an update from the modeller tomorrow, but it still sits within our model,” he told reporters this afternoon.

The number of people in intensive care also rose from 23 to 29, while the number of people on a ventilator increased to six, up from four yesterday.

Marshall originally reported that nine people were now on a ventilator, although SA Health later revised this down to six.

Overall hospitalisations have dropped slightly to 290 after 294 were reported yesterday.

Marshall today provided a more detailed breakdown of the hospitalisation numbers, saying 47 people in hospital are “COVID-positive but not admitted because of their COVID-illness”.

The Premier also said the state’s COVID ready committee was informed this morning that there is an outbreak at an aged care facility in Mount Gambier.

“We are sending a rapid response team to offer a rapid assessment but also whatever support we can offer,” Marshall said.

Around “30 to 40 per cent” of aged care centres in South Australia are currently experiencing an outbreak, according to Marshall, with an outbreak defined as one resident or two staff members testing positive.

He also said the state has finally passed the 90 per cent double dose vaccination milestone – more than three weeks after the government’s previously projected date of December 28.

It comes as the State Government prepares to unveil the final details of its “hybrid” back to school plan tomorrow, with advice to be provided on the use of rapid antigen tests.

Marshall today said the “strong advice” at national cabinet from Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly was that surveillance testing in the school environment is “sub-optimal”.

But the Premier also said authorities were looking at using RATs in “limited applications”, such as special schools and childcare centres.

“We’ll be using rapid antigen tests as advised by SA Health to make sure that we can keep as many people at work and back at school,” Marshall said.

“There are limited circumstances in which the RAT test should be used, and we’ll be outlining those tomorrow.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Commonwealth government will support states and territories that want to implement surveillance testing for schools on a 50-50 cost-sharing basis.

But Morrison stressed the health advice didn’t recommend such a regime.

“While it is not the medical advice for (surveillance testing) to be undertaken, states and territories may be choosing to do that based on the education advice they are receiving to ensure schools can open and stay open,” he told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.

“Where they believe that is necessary, the Commonwealth government will be supporting that.”

National cabinet’s failure to reach a unified approach on schools comes despite leaders discussing a co-ordinated approach for weeks.

Marshall also flagged that he will provide more detail tomorrow on when the State Government will drop its work from home policy, as the CBD struggles with an exodus of city workers.

Another 29,728 booster shots were administered on Wednesday, according to SA Health data, after eligibility for third shots was expanded to more than 200,000 people yesterday.

A further 4177 paediatric doses were administered to children yesterday, which Marshall touted as an “absolutely fantastic number”.

-With AAP

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