South Australia has recorded its highest daily total of new COVID-19 cases in almost two months, two days after the Adelaide Cup long weekend.
- The number of new COVID-19 cases is the highest since January 20
- No new deaths have been recorded
- Leaders are reluctant to set a date for removing masks
A total of 3,122 people have tested positive for the virus, taking the total number of active cases to 17,654.
It is an increase of 742 cases on the previous day and the highest daily total since January 20, when 3,777 people tested positive.
Hospitalisations are up slightly to 136; 10 of those are in intensive care and two are on ventilators.
There were no deaths reported today.
COVID-19 numbers regularly spike on Wednesdays, following transmissions over weekends.
Monday was the Adelaide Cup public holiday in South Australia, the peak of the festival season, with the music festival Womadelaide being held from Friday to Monday as part of the Adelaide Festival.
The state’s COVID Ready Committee met yesterday but no changes were made to mask or close contact rules.
Masks are compulsory in indoor public spaces in South Australia.
Close contacts must quarantine for 14 days if someone who lives with them tests positive and cannot isolate within the house.
Masks to stay but close contact rules may change
Police Commissioner Grant Stevens, who signs off on COVID-19 directions, said it was “not fair for me to speculate on time frames” for changing the rules to be more lenient like those interstate.
“I do see a bit of fatigue around in terms of people’s commitment to wearing masks and some of the social distancing requirements but, overall, things are looking pretty good, so if we keep going the way we’re going, I think it’s sooner than later, but I wouldn’t speculate exactly when,” he said.
Premier Steven Marshall suggested the close contact rules for family members could be reduced in the coming days.
However, he said face masks were here to stay for now.
“We obviously removed the vast majority of the public health social measures on Saturday in South Australia,” he said.
“We do want to have a couple of day to see what the results are. We are seeing a fairly substantial increase in NSW.”
Australian Medical Association national vice-president Chris Moy said mask-wearing should also be the last restriction to go.
“I think it then gives people the impression that it’s over and we are talking about the fact that the infection is still out there, and we are talking about a dangerous infection,” Dr Moy said.
SA Police said 100 were issued a caution notice, while 92 others were provided education over mask compliance issues on public transport during Operation Cover last month.
Four more were issued a $1,000 fine.
Businesses and schools struggling
Business SA director of policy and advocacy Kendall Crowe said the sector was disappointed the state government did not make changes to close contact rules, warning the current rules were crippling small businesses.
“What we really want to see is South Australia fall in line with the nationally agreed rules around close contacts whereby a person needs to spend at least four hours with a COVID case before they’re deemed a close contact; in South Australia, it’s only 15 minutes,” she said.
At Nailsworth Primary School, an entire class has been shut until Monday due to the high rate of COVID-19 transmission among teachers and students.
Australian Education Union state president Andrew Gohl said it was one of many schools feeling the pressure across the state.
“This effort is really not sustainable and their conditions are being eroded to keep schools open and maintain those learning programs, but I’m not sure how much longer that can continue,” he said.
He called on SA Health to consider a state-wide school reset to reduce the rate of transmission.
“I think resets like that are a really good commonsense action, and we know that’s happened in a few cases around the state where staffing has been an issue,” he said.
“SA Health should really have a look at that because staffing schools and preschools is becoming a big problem.”