South Australia has confirmed that a new Covid-19 infection was detected in a student at an Adelaide high school following the announcement of comprehensive reforms to the state’s hotel quarantine system.
TO Health said on Wednesday evening that anyone attending Woodville Middle School on Monday should immediately be isolated from all members of their household after a student tests positive for the virus.
There was no immediate word whether the cases were related to the so-called Parafield cluster or represented a wider community transmission.
Schools will be closed on Thursday to undergo deep cleanings and to allow authorities to carry out detailed contact tracing and make risk assessments.
Earlier on Wednesday, the prime minister, Steven Marshall, said anyone who tested positive, including returning travelers, would be transferred to a special health facility.
It was most likely a previously disused private hospital that had been refurbished and reused when the pandemic first hit.
All security at the facility will be provided by the police and staff will not be allowed to work in other high-risk locations, including prisons and elderly care centers.
As an added security measure, Marshall will ask the national cabinet to consider testing all Australians returning from overseas before they are allowed to board their flights.
A negative test will be required before anyone is allowed to travel, according to the SA proposal.
The prime minister said while no system can eliminate all risks, the government will do whatever it takes to make quarantine arrangements safer.
“We continue to act swiftly and decisively based on expert health advice,” Marshall said.
“What we have to do is put as much barrier as possible between the virus and the community.”
So far 29 cases have been linked to the so-called Parafield cluster that was sparked when a worker at the Peppers hotel caught the virus from a returning traveler.
A review of the CCTV footage from the facility has cleared all workers from violating major safety protocols.
The student’s case brings the number of active infections in SA to 39.
SA Health said more than 9,400 tests were carried out on Tuesday, while on Wednesday new regulations were enacted requiring all people working in quarantine hotels to have weekly coronavirus swabs.
The directive applies to SA Health officers, defense force personnel, and all employees and contractors, including cleaning and security staff.
Amid growing calls for a broader independent investigation into the hotel quarantine issue, Marshall said such an investigation would be carried out but not until the pandemic emergency had passed.
A police investigation is underway into misinformation that sparked a brief statewide lockdown last week after sparking fears of a widespread community spread of the Parafield cluster.
As the investigation continues, SA has postponed international arrivals and decided to clean the Peppers hotel.
Marshall said South Australia remains committed to playing its role in the repatriation process and will resume international flights when it is safe to do so, although perhaps in lower numbers than in recent weeks.
He said SA also remained on track to reduce local Covid-19 restrictions from December 1.
He planned to lift restrictions on the state border with Victoria at that time.
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