Interstate travellers will now be exempt from quarantine to visit dying family and friends in SA residential aged care facilities. The news comes as a second mercy flight of repatriated Aussies landed in Adelaide this morning, and the state records just two new coronavirus cases.
One patient is aged in their 20s, the other in their 60s, and the source of each is known.
One came from contact with an infected international traveller – the other from an infected interstate traveller.
SA has now had a total of 437 cases, but 376 people have recovered and there are 57 active cases. Five people are in hospital including two men aged 68 and 75 in a critical condition in intensive care.
Chief Public Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said it was vital to be sure the disease is under control before lifting restrictions beyond those outlined today.
She stressed that health officials believe it is safe for children to go back to school next week.
“It really is safe for children to go back to school, safe for children, safe for teachers,” she said.
Premier Steven Marshall echoed the need for caution while noting: “I’m very optimistic about winter this year.”
No passengers in the two international repatriation flights which landed this week have shown symptoms of COVID-19.
Quarantine exemptions for urgent cases
Interstate travellers will now be exempt from quarantine to visit dying family and friends in South Australian residential aged care facilities.
State Co-ordinator and Police Commissioner Grant Stevens has announced changes to restrictions on aged care facilities.
Restrictions on facilities were first introduced on March 23 to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Under the amendments, which came into effect this morning, interstate travellers are now exempt from quarantine so they can attend end of life support visits at aged care facilities, provided they quarantine when not visiting the facility.
Other changes include giving power to the SA Health chief executive and delegated authorised officers to provide conditional and unconditional exemptions from aged care facility restrictions.
Previous visitation restrictions as well as a ban on aged care residents from re-entering facilities, except under certain circumstances, remain in place.
For more information call the SA COVID-19 Information Line on 1800 253 787 between 8am and 8pm, seven days a week, or visit sahealth.sa.gov.au or www.covid-19.sa.gov.au/.
A second plane bringing Australians home from overseas has landed safely at Adelaide Airport this morning.
The mercy flight, carrying 325 passengers who were stranded abroad due to the coronavirus pandemic, touched down at about 7.45am.
The passengers will move through customs before being escorted by police to hotels in the city, where they will undergo 14 days of supervised quarantine.
A total of 304 passengers will be taken to the Playford Adelaide hotel while 20 will be taken to the Pullman Adelaide hotel.
Authorities say there are no reports of any passengers displaying symptoms of coronavirus.
One passenger, with a pre-existing medical condition, will be taken by ambulance to the Flinders Medical Centre for treatment of that condition.
They will remain there for the 14-day quarantine period.
The State Government announced on Saturday it would take part in a co-ordinated national operation to repatriate hundreds of thousands of Australians trying to return home from overseas.
It said two planes would fly into Adelaide as part of the initiative.
The first aircraft, carrying 374 passengers, landed at the airport at 7.20am yesterday.
Those passengers, like today’s, were greeted by police and SA Health personnel.
The first group of passengers from that flight filed through the international arrivals section about 8.50am.
Wearing face masks and wheeling their luggage, they went straight outside to a waiting bus, which took them to the Pullman Adelaide. All passengers will be required to undertake supervised quarantine in the hotel for 14 days.
Asked how it felt to be home, one passenger replied “good, very good” as he walked out of the airport to the bus.
Another passenger – an elderly woman – was wheeled out on a stretcher to an ambulance.
Authorities said she suffered from a chronic illness and had not shown any signs of having coronavirus.
She was taken to the Royal Adelaide Hospital for an assessment before she was expected to be transferred to the Pullman Adelaide.
She was among three passengers who were taken to hospital for assessment or treatment of non-coronavirus related conditions.
Police Commissioner Grant Stevens yesterday described the repatriation of the passengers as a “complex” quarantine operation.
He said each passenger would receive a comprehensive health check when they arrived at the hotel.
Trifecta of zero cases
Chief public health officer Associate Professor Nicola Spurrier welcomed the result as “another really good news day for South Australia”.
Dr Spurrier said this made it a “trifecta”.
“This is in the context of many more tests being done in South Australia,” she said.
Chief public health officer Associate Professor Nicola Spurrier welcomed the result as “another really good news day for South Australia”. Picture: AAP / David Mariuz
SA now has just 62 active cases when just weeks ago officials feared an exponential rise, such as seen overseas, could see thousands of cases.
The total remains at 435 cases, with 369 people recovered and four deaths.
Six people are in hospital including two men, aged 68 and 75, in a critical condition in intensive care. There are four cases where the source remains unknown, but Prof Spurrier said there was now “no evidence of community transfer”.
The triple-zero result comes amid a testing blitz, which has seen more than 6000 tests completed since Thursday. There have now been more than 44,000 tests since February.