Region told to remain vigilant as SA COVID cases climb

COVID SITES: SA Health has released a list of sites potentially at risk of COVID-19.

By Raquel Mustillo

THE coronavirus outbreak in Adelaide should act as a wake-up call to Limestone Coast residents not to be complacent, the region’s medical chief has warned.

South Australia recorded 17 new coronavirus cases overnight, which are believed to have stemmed from a medi-hotel in the state’s capital city.

Limestone Coast Local Health Network executive director of medical services Dr Elaine Pretorius said she was confident the Mount Gambier medi-hotel was “managed impeccably” and the risk of transmission at the site was negligible.

However, she said it was important community members were not indifferent to the risk of COVID-19.

“The demographic of people at the medi-hotel we have here is very different from Adelaide,” she said.

“The people who are quarantining at the medi-hotel are from across the border in Victoria, but in Adelaide they are high-risk because they are coming in from overseas.

“But this shows how unpredictable the virus is and we are going to be have to be nimble and every person in the community needs to help in making the risk lower.”

Dr Pretorius said health officials were disappointed by the outbreak and urged community members to maintain social distancing, hand hygiene measures and stay home if unwell.

“I think this has been a wake up call that we are going to live with the virus for a long time and how quickly this can escalate,” she said.

“It sounds as if the young woman was a cleaner at the medi-hotel, she wasn’t feeling well and then she went to work.

“If you are unwell, if you have a little bit of a cold, if you are not feeling yourself – don’t come to work.

“I understand some people need to go to work or they don’t want to call in sick, but in this case it is really important because it is not about me and you, it is about the wider community and the risk of infections.”

SA Health is in the process of contacting everyone who was in the emergency department at Lyell McEwin Hospital between 5.30pm on Friday, November 13 and 4am on Saturday, November 14 after an elderly woman tested positive at the site.

A number of sites across Adelaide’s northern suburbs and central business district have been shut down, including Mawson Lakes School, Thomas More College at Salisbury Downs and Port Adelaide Hungry Jacks, while the Parafield Plaza Supermarket has been closed for cleaning.

Authorities have issued an alert for individuals visiting certain bus routes, shopping centres, a supermarket and a hotel to monitor for symptoms and get tested immediately if symptoms appear.

South Australia has been declared a COVID hotspot, prompting the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Tasmania to close their borders.

Travel restrictions will apply to people entering Queensland from Adelaide as of midnight, with travellers forced to undertake 14-day hotel quarantine.

The ACT government is asking residents to reconsider any non-essential travel to South Australia, while NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has ruled out shutting the borders to South Australia.

Dr Pretorius said no changes would be made to any of the region’s publicly-owned health sites, but flagged a change in the screening questionnaire to include Adelaide.

She said testing stations will remain in place at the Mount Gambier Showgrounds, Millicent and Kingston hospitals and at two border sites.

A testing station at the Naracoorte Showgrounds will remain open, but will relocate in the near future.

“For those people who have been to Adelaide over the weekend, if there is any risk and if you have any doubt, please get tested,” Dr Pretorius said.

“Testing, tracing and isolating are our three most important weapons against this.”