Authorities fear Adelaide might need to follow Melbourne into a draconian lockdown after hundreds of people were potentially exposed to coronavirus from a hotel quarantine outbreak.
A quarantine hotel worker has tested positive for Covid-19 having caught it from an infected traveller, and has passed on the illness to family members, with four people already having tested positive.
The list of potentially infected places over the weekend now include a prison, a hospital, a primary school, and aged care facility and a shopping centre, with more than 90 people already been forced into quarantine.
Health authorities say it’s too early to tell if the crowds who went to the city’s traditional Christmas Pageant at Adelaide Oval on Saturday have also been exposed.
The Lyell McEwin Hospital in Adelaide’s north where a woman in her 80s was diagnosed. More than 90 staff and patients who were there at the same time in Emergency are in quarantine
West Australian cricketer Cameron Green has his temperature checked on returning home from Adelaide on Saturday. He will now have to go into quarantine for 14 days
Travellers pictured at Adelaide airport on Saturday. South Australians’ travel plans have been thrown into chaos by an outbreak that prompted WA to change its border rules on Sunday
News of the cluster sparked an immediate reaction to control the outbreak, having learned from the wave of illness which swept through Melbourne in past months.
A plane load of passengers from Adelaide who landed at Perth airport just one day after border rules were relaxed were told to quarantine for 14 days or go home, and people about to depart Adelaide for Perth on Sunday were told they too would be required to quarantine for two weeks if they went ahead with their trips.
SA Health authorities believe the outbreak started when a worker at Peppers Hotel quarantine in Adelaide’s CBD brought the virus home.
The couple, a woman in her 50s and a man in his 60s, then gave it to an 80-year-old woman who was the mother of one of them.
The elderly woman visited the Parafield Plaza Asian supermarket between 10:30am and 11:30am on Thursday without knowing she was infectious, potentially spreading the virus.
Passengers who flew from Adelaide to Perth on Sunday were told to quarantine or go home. News of Adelaide’s outbreak came as their plane was in mid-air. Pictured: a Qantas flight to Adelaide last month
Medical staff at an Adelaide coronavirus testing clinic in September. Adelaide’s spiralling outbreak is worrying health authorities
On Friday night she sought treatment at Lyell McEwin Hospital in Adelaide’s north where she was diagnosed with coronavirus on Saturday.
About 90 people who were in the hospital’s emergency department between 5:30pm on Friday and 4:00am on Saturday have been ordered into quarantine.
South Australia’s chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier told reporters on Sunday that the infected trio have a ‘very large family’.
Four close contacts have since showed symptoms and are awaiting coronavirus test results.
One of the family members worked at the Yatala Labour Prison – the city’s biggest jail – in the northern suburbs and tested positive on Sunday.
A rapid-response team is helping contact tracers track the prison exposure, however it is not yet known when the employee was last at the prison or whether they had contact with the prisoners.
Professor Nicola Spurrier, South Australia’s Chief Public Health Officer, pictured in May
SA Correctional Services chief executive David Brown confirmed the case and said a female prisoner from a different jail had also been affected as she had been at the Lyell McEwin Hospital emergency department during the high-risk hours, ABC News reported.
Less than an hour after the prison case was announced, a primary school in Adelaide’s north said it would have to close on Monday.
The Mawson Lakes Primary School and Preschool said it would shut for a deep clean after a student was found to be a ‘close contact’ of one of the infected person.
Professor Spurrier said it was too early to say whether people at the Adelaide Oval Christmas Pageant on Saturday had also been exposed.
She warned more people were likely to be infected.
‘I am absolutely warning South Australians: This is a wake-up call — if you have respiratory symptoms, you’ve got to get tested,’ she said on Sunday.
The spiralling cluster is the first community transmission South Australia has seen in seven months – since April 15.
The emergency comes one day after Western Australia opened its borders to no-quarantine arrivals from South Australia.
It prompted West Australian authorities to snap their border rules back up for South Australian travellers after an emergency meeting on Sunday.
Mawson Lakes Primary School and Preschool in Adelaide’s north (pictured) is closed for cleaning on Monday after a student was found to be a close contact of an infected person
The tough restrictions had only been eased for one day, and the change caused havoc for hundreds of South Australians who crossed the border on Saturday and Sunday.
A plane load of passengers from Adelaide who landed at 3.22pm at Perth Airport on Sunday were told they have to quarantine for two weeks or return on a flight home to Adelaide on Monday.
The news of the coronavirus outbreak had broken while they were still in mid-air.
The 151 Qantas passengers had been expecting to land without restriction as Western Australian eased its rules at 12.01am on Saturday so that residents from all states and territories except NSW and Victoria could enter without quarantining for two weeks.
A worker at Yatala Labour Prison (pictured) in Adelaide’s north tested positive on Sunday
Instead, they were met at the airport by nurses, health officials, Australian Defence Force personnel and police carrying personnel protective equipment.
More than 500 passengers from Adelaide flights are expected to land at Perth Airport this weekend, with 289 already arriving on Saturday and a further 266 people on two more Qantas flights on Sunday night.
Those who arrived on Saturday by either air or road before the new emergency restrictions came into force will be contacted and asked to self-isolate for 14 days and take a coronavirus test on day 11.
South Australian travellers are now subjected to the same quarantine and testing requirements as those from NSW and Victoria.