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Health authorities ‘concerned’ at Barossa Valley cluster

Health authorities in South Australia are “very concerned” at a cluster of coronavirus cases in the scenic Barossa Valley.

The 34 cases of the coronavirus across numerous towns in the region has led to a clamping down on travel between towns in the area with all residents urged to immediately seek testing if they develop symptoms.

South Australia’s chief medical officer, Dr Nicola Spurrier, said yesterday a specialised testing centre had been set up in the Barossa Valley, and asked residents to comply with a number of new orders.

“We now have 34 cases linked to this area and the link has been to the two groups of tourists you’re already aware of,” Dr Spurrier said.

She said the outbreak had been traced to two groups: one of American tourists, and the other a group of Swiss tourists.

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The scenic region, northeast of Adelaide, is notable for its artisanal produce including dairy and wine, and is the home of renowned chef Maggie Beer.

Four venues in the area, including a winery that hosted a wedding, have been pinpointed as possible infection sites. SA authorities have also said passengers travelling on a flight from Sydney to Adelaide on March 19 are at risk of having been infected.

The cases are linked to towns including Tanunda, Nuriootpa, Williamstown, Angaston and Lyndoch.

Anyone from the area who develops COVID-19 symptoms needs to self-isolate immediately and get tested for the virus. She said schools in the Barossa would be closed as a “proactive” measure to clamp down on the cluster.

Principals and childcare directors have been notified and were contacting parents and staff. She urged South Australians to avoid travelling to and from the area and said people who visited those towns from March 14 and had developed symptoms should self-isolate and get tested.

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The Tanunda War Memorial Hospital today opened a dedicated COVID-19 testing clinic to deal with the expected uptick in cases.

The outbreak is linked to two groups that SA health authorities have pinpointed as being potentially infectious. Those people visited a number of venues throughout the Barossa earlier this month, and likely came into contact with members of the public mid-March.

The venues include:

• March 14: Calabria Family Wines Barossa Valley and Harvest Kitchen Restaurant, from 12pm to 4pm

• March 14: Lyndoch Hill Winery and Chateau: Guests attended a wedding on this date

• March 15: Upstairs at Hollick Restaurant in Penola, from 1.30pm to 3.30pm

• March 15: Barn Steakhouse in Mount Gambier from 7.30pm onwards

• March 19: About 40 people travelled on a Virgin Australia Flight VA428, departing from Sydney to Adelaide. Flight times departing Sydney at 4.10pm and arriving in Adelaide at 6.00pm on Thursday.

The flight is linked to passengers who got off a cruise ship in Sydney. The authorities urged people who were on the flight, and haven’t already been contacted by SA Police, to self-isolate now until April 3.

Anyone who attended these venues or was on the flight is urged to monitor themselves for symptoms, self-isolate and seek testing if symptoms develop.

“I’m confident with all of the measures put in place, along with my request for people not to travel into this area, that we will get on top of this,” Dr Spurrier said.

SA now has 299 confirmed cases of coronavirus, including four cases of community transmission, with an extra 12 reported on Sunday.

Of those 12, seven were linked to the Ruby Princess cruise ship.

Six people are in intensive care with four of those listed as critical.

— with AAP

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