“This is an example of community transmission. And it’s a sort of thing I have been talking about for some time that although we can get rid of the virus for a period of time, in South Australia, there was still the risk of reintroduction,” Professor Spurrier said.
She said a woman in her 80s presented at Lyell McEwin Hospital in Adelaide on Friday night and tested positive for the virus on Saturday.
Professor Spurrier said before Sunday’s coronavirus update, she learned that two of the woman’s close contacts, one of whom who works in the hotel quarantine system, also tested positive. The woman’s contacts are a man in his 60s and a woman in her 50s.
She said that while voluntary testing had been available for hotel staff for some time, as of Sunday the government was implementing mandatory seven-day testing requirements for all staff.
“That includes our nursing staff, our police, security, and also cleaning and concierge staff, so everybody that is working within that environment,” Professor Spurrier said.
“But I really believe that this is the way we need to be going because it’s obvious that this is the highest risk in Australia right now is this risk of importation in our quarantine hotels.”
She said the woman in her 80s was part of a large family and four of her close contacts were showing symptoms.
Profess Spurrier said that, in turn, a number of high risk workplaces had been identified, including in mining, correctional services, healthcare and aged care.
When the woman presented at hospital she was wearing a face mask, she said, but 90 people in the emergency department have been placed into quarantine and will be tested.
The state’s fourth new case on Sunday is a returned traveller, a 30-year-old male, in hotel quarantine.
In a statement NSW Health urged the community not to drop its guard despite the run of transmission-free days, particularly people living in south-west and north-west Sydney after the state’s sewerage surveillance system detected strains of the virus in those areas.
The revelation of the new cases in South Australia also sparked uncertainty over the future of travel arrangements with Western Australia, which switched to a “controlled” border just one day ago.
Craig Butt joined The Age in 2011 and specialises in data-driven journalism.
Angus Thompson is an Urban Affairs reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.