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A massive coronavirus trace-and-isolate operation by South Australia Health has led to the hotel quarantine of 70 students – and a further 1100 people, including teachers, have been ordered to self-isolate.
Fresh restrictions could be introduced as early as today, with aged-care centres and gyms likely to be affected.
Officials are desperately trying to prevent an embryonic COVID-19 cluster turning into an outbreak following a new case of a woman in her 20s.
The latest case has been traced to the Thebarton Senior College, where another woman tested positive to the disease earlier this week.
It has led to the closure of the college and 70 adult students are now undergoing 14 days’ isolation in Adelaide CBD medi-hotels under police guard.
Another 1100 students and staff considered “casual contacts” have been ordered to self-isolate as an action plan to stop a potential spread .
South Australians can expect to see targeted restrictions rolled out as early as today, with lessons from Victoria and NSW being discussed at the transition committee and national Cabinet meetings.
“The entire country is on high alert and Victoria is still not at its peak,” Premier Steven Marshall said.
Mr Marshall said the state was closely monitoring aged care facilities.
“We know that residential aged-care facilities can be particularly vulnerable so we are constantly monitoring them and considering reduced access,” he said.
He said the committee would also be looking at gymnasiums and density measures, as well as caps on international arrivals.
The students in quarantine – all aged over 18 – and also those in self-isolation will be given materials and online resources by the Education Department to help with their studies.
It is understood the matter stemmed from a Blair Athol man in his 20s who returned from Victoria and self-isolated in the Walkers Arms Hotel.
He passed the infection to a hotel cleaner as well as a woman who attended the Thebarton college, who in turn passed it on another woman and now the latest case.
Chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier believes hotel quarantine is the safest place for close contacts of the latest case.
“We have decided the safest place for these young people to quarantine is in the medi-hotel,” she said.
“It is the safest way of doing this quarantine.”
Health and Wellbeing Minister Stephen Wade said it has “always been made clear” there might be more cases.
He said the response would be to swiftly trace and isolate to prevent a “case becoming a cluster becoming an outbreak”.
Thebarton Senior College was due to reopen today to students following thorough cleaning but will remain closed.
Officials will be on hand to turn students away.
It comes as South Australia’s record-breaking COVID testing will be turbo-charged by a new machine capable of processing 800 tests a day.
The Canadian-made Panther machine at the Royal Adelaide Hospital is similar to ones already in use for sexually transmitted disease testing but has been repurposed to test for coronavirus.
Testing – seen as crucial to stop the disease – hit new records this week, topping more than 6000 tests on Wednesday.
This included more than 900 on the first day of the new drive-through clinic at Victoria Park.
A new seven-day drive-through clinic opened at Aldinga yesterday.