New exposure sites for SA Covid cases have been declared as new border clearances are revealed to SA travelers as the state celebrates reaching a major vaccine milestone.
South Australia has reached the magical 80 per cent full vaccination target for people aged 16 and over when major new border changes were announced and new concerns emerged about a worrying new African variant.
SA Health reported that the state had achieved the fully vaccinated target, three days after the borders reopened to the eastern states.
Prime Minister Steven Marshall praised South Australians for reaching the big milestone and said, “by working together, we are mapping a way out of the pandemic”.
SA Health reported on Friday on two new Covid cases – a man and a woman, both in their 20s, who arrived from intergovernmental countries, and a number of new exposure sites were announced.
More than a dozen new locations were unveiled across Adelaide, including the Casino hotel Eos and the airport, as well as at Kingston SE, Naracoorte and Mt Gambier.
Close contact points were revealed in the city, Plymptom and Walkerville, while low risk locations are at the airport, Kingston SE, Naracoorte and Mt Gambier.
One is in quarantine in SA while the other has returned to their home state.
The details emerged as major new border changes emerged, which included travelers who had to have a negative test 72 hours before they had to travel from 6 p.m. 12.01 Sunday.
Chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said the new test rules did not involve more checks but are expected to “significantly reduce the inconvenience to other travelers who need to be quarantined”.
“We want everyone to be able to come to South Australia – whether it’s homecoming residents or travelers visiting their families for Christmas – while we do our best to reduce the impact on our state, as our vaccination rates rise, “she said.
“We can not stop Covid-19 from entering our state, but we want to do so in the most controlled way possible to ensure that we protect our society, our economy and our health care system.”
Legal instructions, signed by Police Commissioner Grant Stevens at 16.56 Friday, also prohibits any close contact with a Covid-19 case within the last 7 days prior to travel to SA.
A close contact in the previous fourteen days must take a day 13 Covid test in addition to any other checks required for their entry clearance.
A number of new rules were also imposed on cross-border communities if they leave their territory for at least three days.
While any traveler from Nhill, the site of a super-dispersal event, and where the state’s first case emerged since the borders reopened – a six-year-old girl.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison had previously praised South Australians for their efforts to get vaccinated and assured them that a new highly mutated Covid-19 strain found in South Africa was not yet a variant of concern for Australia.
Sir. Morrison said the “best protection” against “any new variant” was vaccination, urging unvaccinated South Australians to help the state reach the 80 per cent double-dose milestone.
“Today here in South Australia we have half a percent left, so if you have not received your second dose of vaccination, let’s go out and get that dot,” Mr Morrison said while visiting the Tonsley Innovation District in Adelaide Friday.
“Let’s make this an 80 percent double-vaccinated condition.”
The Prime Minister is also sending a letter to all Australian homes, begging people to order their third jab as Covid is causing chaos across Europe.
Federal authorities are reviewing the new B. 1.1.529 variant, which was first discovered in Botswana before spreading to South Africa and then Hong Kong.
Researchers said the new variant has at least 10 mutations compared to two for Delta and three for Beta.
SA authorities are also monitoring the new strain.
A spokesman for Police Commissioner Grant Stevens, who approves all legal instructions as the state’s Covid coordinator, said officials “will respond if needed to do so if this particular strain should directly affect South Australian society”.
Health Secretary Greg Hunt said any travel change would be delivered via the government’s Smart Traveler database as the World Health Organization held crisis negotiations on the highly mutated tribe.
If it turns out to be a great new variant, it will get the Greek alphabet signal NOW.
Hunt said he was briefed by the federal chief physician, Professor Paul Kelly, and the leader of the scientific and technical advisory group, Professor Brendan Murphy.
“They are investigating and reviewing the South African variant in collaboration with the WHO and our international partners,” he said.
“As we always have been, we are flexible. And if the medical advice is that we need to change, we will not hesitate.
“That’s what we have done as a country … our approach is to look at the medical evidence and act quickly, and we will continue to do that.”
He said all travelers from South Africa will be quarantined at NT’s Howard Springs facilities. There was a repatriation flight last week.
But Mr Hunt said there were no “immediate additional flights likely”.
“So the latest flight has been, is already seeing people go through a full quarantine period,” he said.
WHO’s technical manager at Covid-19, Maria Van Kerkhove, said the variant was worrying.
“The concern is that when you have so many mutations, it can have an impact on how the virus behaves,” she said.
“It will take a few weeks for us to understand the impact of this variant on potential vaccines.”
British authorities have already cracked down on African travel.
British Health Secretary Sajid Javid said all flights from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe would be suspended from noon on Friday and all six countries would be added to the country’s red list.
He said the new variant identified in South Africa “may be more transmissible” than the Delta strain and added “the vaccines we currently have may be less effective”.
On Thursday, three new cases were announced in SA, and three Qantas flights were listed as exposure sites, bringing the total number to 15. See all exposure sites in the table above.