“What is important is these don’t get sort of locked in as part of another enduring disruption and as soon as South Australia is able to get on top of this I would expect that states would keep on the path that we have set towards [borders reopening by] Christmas,” Mr Morrison said.
South Australia recorded its first locally acquired case in almost three months on Sunday when four cases were reported, before the tally grew on Monday.
The cluster began when a woman in her 80s tested positive for the virus on Saturday.
Two family members were also part of the initial cluster, including a man in his 60s who works in hotel quarantine for returning travellers. SA Health believes that is the source of the outbreak, with 15 of the 17 cases from the same large family.
The youngest person the cluster is a one-year-old baby, while the eldest is a man in his 80s.
“It’s a large family that make up the majority of this cluster. This family have been extremely helpful and have really supported our efforts working through this,” Professor Nicola Spurrier, South Australia’s Chief Public Health Officer, said.
Two cases associated with the outbreak are in hospital as a precaution, due to their age and vulnerability, while others have been moved into hotel into “medi-hotels” – the term South Australia uses to describe its hotel quarantine system.
Anglicare South Australia has closed its aged care home at Brompton, in Adelaide’s inner north, after two workers tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.
Both have been placed in hotel quarantine. The site will undergo a deep clean and all the facility’s 56 staff and 40 residents will be tested.
South Australia will suspend all inbound international flights for the rest of the week.
SA cluster alert
SA Health is racing to contact anyone who attended the emergency department at Lyell McEwin Hospital between 5.30pm on Friday and 4am on Saturday who may have been a close contact of the woman in her 80s.
Alerts have also been issued for Parafield Plaza Supermarket in Adelaide’s northern suburbs, while a Hungry Jack’s restaurant in Port Adelaide has closed after an employee worked there while infected.
Mawson Lakes School and Preschool have closed after a student was a close contact of a confirmed case.
Mr Morrison said he had spoken to South Australian Premier Steven Marshall about the importance of getting on top of any potential risks or outbreaks in the state’s residential aged care facilities.
Mr Marshall said any aged care resident who tests positive for coronavirus will be transferred to the Royal Adelaide Hospital, which has been dedicated for COVID patients.
“We are facing the biggest test to date but we can and must rise to this new challenge,” Mr Marshall said.
“The next 24 hours will be critical, but we’re not going to wait for the situation to deteriorate.”
Border restrictions begin again
On Sunday afternoon, passengers landing in Perth from Adelaide were forced to turn back or go into quarantine after West Australian Premier Mark McGowan reinstated restrictions on South Australia.
On Monday, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced Adelaide and its surrounding suburbs would be considered a hot spot after 11.59pm, forcing all arrivals into mandatory hotel quarantine. In addition, anyone who has arrived from SA since November 9 must go into retrospective self-isolation until November 23.
Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein said anyone who arrived in his state from South Australia since Monday, November 9, must self-isolate in their home or accommodation.
Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner declared South Australia a hotspot, forcing arrivals from the state into immediate mandatory quarantine.
Mr Gunner also nominated November 30 as the date Melburnians could enter the NT without mandatory quarantine.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian called the SA outbreak “very concerning” but said it was important to trust health authorities to contain the situation.
“NSW has no intention of changing any of our border policies,” she said. “Our position in NSW is we need to live with COVID and, every time there’s an outbreak, you can’t shut down borders.”
Calls to slam shut NSW border
But the NSW Labor opposition has called for Ms Berejiklian to “lock down our state now”. Shadow Minister for Health Ryan Park said every person arriving in NSW from South Australia from Monday night should be going into mandatory hotel quarantine.
“It’s absolutely critical that we … move quickly. This virus waits for no one.”
Mr Park said communities around the South Australian border who use the state’s services, like Broken Hill, could be part of a border bubble.
Health authorities in NSW are contacting people who have recently arrived in Sydney and Broken Hill on flights from South Australia following the outbreak.
NSW Health is also screening passengers arriving on flights and trains from South Australia, asking if people have attended any of the venues of concern in Adelaide.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews declared SA a hot spot but said he had little appetite for closing the border. Travellers will be interviewed and have their temperatures checked, he said.
Those who have been in high-risk locations will be asked to isolate and get tested. If they refuse to get tested they will be treated as a close contact and asked to self-isolate for 14 days.
Mr Andrews also suggested the outbreak was linked to private security guards in the SA hotel quarantine system.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the outbreak should not result in other states closing borders. “We don’t have any advice from the Chief Medical Officer that there’s a basis for any state and territory not to be open to any state and territory at this time,” he said.
The federal government has set up an aged care response centre in SA and Mr Hunt said the government would offer whatever resources are required, including Australian Defence Force troops.
New restrictions in South Australia
Mr Marshall said “time is of the essence” as he urged people to get tested if they had symptoms.
South Australians are being urged to work from home and wear a mask on public transport or when it is not possible to physically distance.
Many South Australians have been going about their lives as normal following the national lockdown earlier in the year, as the last case of community transmission in the state was reported eight months ago.
Now all community sport will be temporarily cancelled, people cannot have more than 10 people at their homes, and funerals have been capped at 50 people, or one person per four square metres. New restrictions have also been introduced to hospitality venues – pubs, clubs and restaurants are capped at 100 people per venue or four people per four square metres.
Gyms, recreation centres and play cafes will be closed in South Australia from midnight.
NSW, Victoria record zero local cases
NSW recorded its ninth consecutive day of no locally transmitted cases, although one local case was added from October 23 after the person underwent further testing. Two cases were recorded in hotel quarantine.
Victoria recorded its 17th consecutive day of no locally acquired cases on Monday.
With Rachael Dexter, Lucy Cormack
Josh Dye is a news reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald.
Megan Gorrey is the Urban Affairs reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald.
Aisha Dow reports on health for The Age and is a former city reporter.