South Australian health authorities have backtracked on claims their Victorian counterparts did not tell them of the travel details of a UK resident who later tested positive for coronavirus at Adelaide Airport.
Key points:SA Health earlier said a “critical” detail had not been passed on from VictoriaIt has since backtracked, blaming the confusion on an “administrative oversight”The UK resident tested positive to COVID-19 after arriving in SA
The woman, aged in her 50s, travelled to the state on Sunday after being granted an exemption on compassionate grounds to visit a dying relative.
She had recently travelled into Melbourne for a week, before flying to South Australia where she was tested and returned a positive result.
She is the only confirmed active case of coronavirus in South Australia — the first in almost three weeks.
SA Health now says it was provided details about the woman’s flight into Adelaide.(SATC Corporate)
This morning, South Australia’s Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier told ABC Radio Adelaide that SA Health officials only became aware of the woman’s arrival when she self-declared at Adelaide Airport on the weekend.
Dr Spurrier said Victorian authorities emailed their South Australian counterparts on Saturday night, but did not provide further “critical” detail about when the woman would be travelling to Adelaide.
That version of events was subsequently disputed by Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton.
“They were alerted, I’ve got the email that was sent prior to that with flight details, with the time and place of arrival,” Dr Sutton said.
“I’m not sure why there’s a misunderstanding about having been informed.
“That email was sent and South Australian authorities were alerted about the time and the flight details.”
Dr Sutton said an email with relevant details was sent to SA health officials.(AAP: Stefan Postles)
In a later statement, Dr Spurrier confirmed the relevant flight details were provided to SA Health prior to the patient’s arrival.
“Due to an administrative oversight, we can confirm the relevant flight details involving an overseas traveller arriving in South Australia were provided to SA Health prior to their arrival,” Dr Spurrier said.
“What this issue has highlighted is the need to strengthen the processes involving travellers arriving from overseas and travelling between states during their quarantine period.”
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Dr Sutton said he would be happy to speak with Dr Spurrier about the communication breakdown.
“I’m very happy to work with the Chief Public Health Officer in South Australia to work out exactly what might have broken down in terms of communication and make sure we’re on the same page in the future,” he said.
After the blunder was identified, SA Premier Steven Marshall said the granting of quarantine exemptions to overseas travellers on compassionate grounds should stop while the system is reviewed.
Mr Marshall said SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens would meet with SA Health today to discuss the exemption system.
Dr Spurrier earlier said Victorian authorities did not inform the airline involved — but Dr Sutton said, while he was unsure if that had occurred, such a step would have been “routine”.
Travel exemptions to be tightened
Dr Spurrier earlier said the case was picked up because the woman did the right thing upon her arrival into Adelaide and notified staff.
“As soon as she arrived she came up made herself known to the airport authorities,” Dr Spurrier said.
Staff at Adelaide Airport have been testing people who have travelled.(ABC News: Michael Clements)
“Then we were able to get our officers to come and escort her and that process then occurred.
“We followed our protocol, the person had their swab done, they were isolated in one of our facilities and she had the police escort as we would normally do.”
She also said tighter policies would now be implemented for those granted travel exemptions.
“We’re preparing a template and we will be providing that to other states so that we absolutely get that sort of information,” she said.
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