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Local News - Victoria

Coronavirus Victoria COVID-positive Cedar Meats worker turned away from testing twice before first abattoir case detected: inquiry


On April 17, he said, a staff member was sent home sick from the meatworks but that person was unable to get a coronavirus test because they “didn’t have symptoms to warrant a COVID test”.

The worker was turned away from testing twice and sent home before returning a positive result after insisting for a third time that a doctor screen him for COVID-19, the inquiry heard.

Cedar Meats in Brooklyn.

Cedar Meats in Brooklyn.Credit:Jason South

Mr Kairouz said he was first alerted to a positive case among his staff on April 27. He said that case came to light after another staff member severed his thumb at work and went to the Sunshine Hospital for treatment on April 23, where he developed a cough and was tested for the virus.

Two dozen staff at Sunshine Hospital were later sent home after the Cedar Meats worker tested positive. A nurse at the hospital, who had treated the worker, later tested positive.

Mr Kairouz strongly disputed comments made by then Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos at the time that the cluster had been handled “absolutely perfectly” by the department.

He said the greatest failure in the handling of the outbreak was a Department of Health and Human Services directive for staff to get tested at a multitude of testing sites, rather than setting up a single testing clinic at the abattoir.

Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel says cases weren't being managed properly, with some even lost, in Victoria's contact tracing system.

Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel says cases weren’t being managed properly, with some even lost, in Victoria’s contact tracing system.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

“My one wish is that DHHS were able to test on-site because we would have been able to get on top of the outbreak,” he told the inquiry.

“We knew how difficult it would be to communicate with 350 workers of such diverse backgrounds and language barriers once they left business. Time was of the essence. It would have ensured that detailed and more accurate information was obtained from our staff through the use of Cedar managers and interpreters. Unfortunately, DHHS could not organise this.”

Mr Kairouz also said DHHS delays in getting on top of the outbreak meant one of his staff members ended up infecting nine others in their family.

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“It was a devastating situation on a personal level,” Mr Kairouz told the inquiry. “It was a very confusing time for us all. It was a very difficult time. We were harassed and seen to have done something wrong and that was extremely hard for everyone.”

The Age has previously reported that Cedar Meats management ignored reports of workers who believed they may have had coronavirus in mid-April as “rumour and innuendo” weeks before health officials shut down the abattoir.

Between April 13 and 17, Cedar Meats and Labour Solutions, the labour-hire firm that provides more than half of the Cedar Meats workforce, had daily phone calls about a small group of workers, some of whom were off on sick days, who told management they believed they had COVID-19 or believed their coworkers were infected.

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Workers were offered face masks only on April 29, when Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton ordered the closure of the business.

Since the outbreak, Mr Kairouz said he had invested nearly $1 million in measures to protect staff, including thermal cameras, which take the temperature of staff entering the abattoir.

Australia’s Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel, told the inquiry COVID-19 cases were lost and duplicated during the second wave as Victoria’s contact tracing system was overwhelmed.

He said it was impossible to determine whether the contact tracing systems in other states in Australia would have been overwhelmed like Victoria had they been hit with hundreds of new infections a day.

“It all comes to down preparation,” Dr Finkel said.

“There is no question Victoria’s system was overwhelmed. But it’s very hard to be precise on that. Would another state collapse at 100 cases, per day sustained, per million?

“I know many of the states are training to deal with something like 50 cases per day per million without losing the ability to manage those cases. That’s not easy to do, but we do believe it is achievable.”

Dr Finkel, who has conducted a review of the nation’s contact tracing systems, also said Victoria should continue to aim for risk minimisation, rather elimination and avoid widespread lockdowns and “all their negative consequences”.

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“I have no doubt risk minimisation is the way to go. Risk minimisation is based on constant preparation, well-trained workforces and modern technology to prevent outbreaks before they occur,” he said.

The Age revealed last week that the Victorian Health Department allowed workers at the Cedar Meats abattoir to return to work while waiting on COVID-19 tests during contact tracing efforts in May.

Under the current rules, contacts of close contacts of infected people are told to immediately self-isolate – if those rules had been in place earlier in the year, the plant’s entire 350-strong workforce likely would have been told to quarantine after it was closed by Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton.

In its submission to the inquiry, the company described evidence given by former health minister Jenny Mikakos to another parliamentary inquiry in May as “factually incorrect”.

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Ms Mikakos told the committee the company took several days to hand over information about who visited the site.

Ms Mikakos, who resigned in September, wrote to Mr Kairouz in August explaining her evidence.

She acknowledged the company handed over timely information, but said contact details were sometimes out of date or lacking full names, meaning the process took longer than anticipated and hampered contact tracing.

A Health Department spokeswoman said last week the department stood by the evidence it gave to the inquiry.

The Cedar Meats outbreak, which prompted a WorkSafe inquiry, put the spotlight on Victoria’s contact tracing system during the first wave of COVID-19 infections. About 10 days after the abattoir was closed, the Andrews government announced a $20 million rapid-response team to handle high-risk outbreaks.

Premier Daniel Andrews was asked about Ms Mikakos comments, which described the handling of Cedar Meats as “absolutely perfect” on Wednesday, but declined to comment.

“I’m not seeking to correct those or add to them,” Mr Andrews told reporters.

“All I’d say to you is that’s a long time ago, there’s a political process going on at the moment down in Melbourne on these issues. I’m going to wait for the report of that parliamentary inquiry, that’s the appropriate thing to do.”

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Australian News

How long are Adelaide’s COVID-19 testing queues?


It appears the South Australian government’s message has hit home for Adelaide residents who have turned out in droves at the state’s COVID-19 testing clinics, triggering queues in excess of 10 hours.

There are now 20 cases linked to the latest outbreak, and more than a dozen “high risk” (close contacts or showing symptoms) residents are likely to return positive results.

But SA chief health officer Nicola Spurrier said it was too early to tell how widespread the virus was in the community.

Many residents arrived at the city’s Parafield testing site before sunrise to secure a spot in the queue ahead of a huge day of testing.

Some have come armed with deck chairs and umbrellas, and they’re being urged to bring water and snacks ahead of a long day in the queue.

Nurse Sarah Crocker, who is swabbing patients across several Adelaide clinics, is urging residents to arrive at least an hour-and-a-half before testing sites are due to open.

She said some wait times had stretched beyond 10 hours but on average were hovering between the six and eight-hour mark.

“Come prepared. Bring cold water, sunscreen, a hat, umbrella for shade, chairs, snacks and some form of entertainment,” Ms Crocker said for people heading to walk-in clinics.

“Clinics are staying open later than usual, but my advice would be to turn up at least one-and-a-half hours before it is due to open.

“The busiest time is all day.”

Lights have just been set up at the Victoria Park testing site so nurses can continue to take swabs well after sunset.

Thousands of South Australians have been forced into quarantine after being deemed close contacts of a confirmed case, with Premier Steven Marshall saying the state is only at the beginning of dealing with a “particularly nasty” Parafield cluster.

“We can and we must rise to the challenge – and that is exactly and precisely what South Australia has done,” he said.

At least 3000 people were tested on Monday, but that figure grew to more than 4500 on Tuesday.

Wait times in the Parafield area have stretched beyond 10 hours, while the drive-through clinic at Victoria Park has been inundated with residents wanting to get tested.

Contact tracers from Western Australia have been called in to help control the outbreak.

SA Health has also urged people to be patient with staff and be prepared for delays.

“Bring water and snacks with you,” the health department said in a Facebook post.

Queue jumpers have also been warned to not push in, with SA Police urging community members to do the right thing.

“Go to the back and wait just like the other members of our community,” authorities said.

Traffic disruptions around testing clinics are also widespread, and motorists are reminded to not queue across intersections.

“Please be patient, ensure that you leave enough distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you and remember to drive slowly through the testing clinics,” SA Police said.

“If you are lining up in person please exercise caution, remembering to social distance, wear a mask if possible and be mindful of the sun.”



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Local News - Victoria

Four new cases in Preston outbreak as health department urges widespread testing


The department is also testing a number of secondary close contacts at Sirius College and Ilim College. They are connected to separate close contacts who will be tested again over this weekend.

Testing sites continued to operate across Broadmeadows, Coolaroo, Craigieburn, Heidelberg, Greensborough, Preston and Fawkner. Rapid response testing teams and engagement teams have also provided testing and information at ‘The Mall’ and Malahang Reserve with more than 80 people attending.

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The department has sent text messages to residents of Melbourne’s northern suburbs including Dallas, Roxburgh Park, Broadmeadows, Preston and West Heidelberg urging those who were experiencing symptoms to get tested.

Victoria’s commander of testing and community engagement, Jeroen Weimar, said while it may be Grand Final day, work does not stop and the department’s teams will continue to provide community support and testing sites will continue to operate.

“I would like to acknowledge the hard work of the East Preston Islamic College which has taken the precaution to close for the next 14 days and providing regular updates to their students and families. The College is leading their community through this difficult time and is to be commended.

“I am so grateful to our community leaders for working with us to keep people safe. I have held several sessions over the last two days to listen and act on the advice from leading community members. We are all Victorians working together to keep this virus away from our families.”

East Preston Islamic College principal Ekrem Ozyurek said on Thursday that the boy attended classes on Monday and Tuesday while he was still deemed a close contact of family members who had tested positive to the coronavirus in recent weeks.

“He had other siblings that were cleared of the virus on the 17th [of October],” he said.

Mr Ozyurek said the child was sent for day-11 testing on Tuesday and received a positive test on Wednesday.

The principal said he believed there had been a misunderstanding that led to the family sending their child to school.

“We’re not trying to find a fault in this one,” he said. “The best thing is to see what we can do from now on.”

A community health door-knocking program started on Thursday morning with more than 89 houses approached and 31 tests conducted as additional pop-up testing sites promised for the Hume, Banyule and Darebin areas in the coming days.

More to come.

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Business

rapid testing startups eye Australian opportunity


Lumos Diagnostics, which is based in Australia but runs many of its operations out of the US, recently closed a $25 million pre-IPO funding round with backers, including Ellerston Capital and Australian Unity.

The business offers manufacturing services for diagnostic tests and also has a diagnostic tool called FebriDx, a finger-prick blood test which lets doctors know if a patient has a viral or bacterial respiratory infection in around 10 minutes. FebriDx is not a test designed to detect COVID-19, but the company sees it as a tool which can help healthcare providers throughout the pandemic.

It has been trialled in the UK as a triage tool for patients presenting with respiratory illness, to test whether they have a viral infection or an illness with another cause. FebriDx is TGA registered in Australia and working its way towards approval in the US.

Lumos Diagnostics' Sam Lanyon with one of its finger prick test devices.

Lumos Diagnostics’ Sam Lanyon with one of its finger prick test devices.Credit:Eamon Gallagher

According to Lumos’ executive chairman Sam Lanyon, the funding dollars could over time see the technology built in Australia rather than overseas.

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“We’re not out for handouts. But the really cool thing is if we can build commercial demand here, we could bring manufacturing here to Australia.”

Mr Lanyon added that the Australian healthcare sector was now focused on tools to help the society beyond the pandemic, including quickly diagnosing illnesses aside from coronavirus.

“Healthcare professionals are starting to think about what does the future look like? And managing people who don’t have COVID.”

For investors like Australian Unity and Ellerston, companies like Lumos offer a long-term opportunity as the healthcare industry looks beyond the pandemic.

According to Victor Windeyer, who will oversee Australian Unity’s new $200 million Future of Healthcare Fund, Lumos’ flagship product has the potential to “reduce the inappropriate use of antibiotics” by distinguishing between viral and bacterial infections.

“This should benefit the whole world, but also Australia,” he said.

Ellerston Capital portfolio manager David Keelan is also upbeat about the value in the rapid-testing market, much of which remains untapped.

“Rapid diagnostics is a developing sector internationally, and a business like Lumos – which has a really strong and growing service business, complemented by a product business with huge potential – was too good an investment to pass up.”

Lumos is considering an ASX tilt in 2021, and could follow in the footsteps of medtech Atomo Diagnostics, which has shown the investor appetite for rapid testing this year. Having listed earlier this year, its 33c share price remains 65 per cent above its 20c IPO price.

Atomo, which has a HIV self-test as its flagship product, has turned its focus to COVID and has a TGA-approved rapid antibody test. The Sydney-based company, backed by billionaire property developer Lang Walker and former Macquarie Bank chief exec Allan Moss, also has the distribution rights for a rapid antigen test made by Korean-listed company Access Bio.

Atomo Diagnostics founder John Kelly, left, shows investor Lang Walker the self-testing blood kit that is already being used for HIV, and which is being pursued for testing COVID-19.

Atomo Diagnostics founder John Kelly, left, shows investor Lang Walker the self-testing blood kit that is already being used for HIV, and which is being pursued for testing COVID-19.Credit:Kate Geraghty

Atomo co-founder and managing director John Kelly said the company had seen “significant growth mainly overseas”, but highlighted Australia lags behind other markets when it comes to fast point-of-care tests for a range of diseases.

“Australia is the slow moving elephant at the back of the herd,” he said.

Mr Kelly said Atomo was also considering local manufacturing of its products, but engaging with governments have proved difficult.

“We think the ability to build a high-tech onshore manufacturing capability here is a no-brainer.”

The accuracy of rapid tests, and in particular COVID-19 antigen tests, has been in the spotlight in recent months, however. Manufacturers acknowledge that rapid tests trade some of the accuracy of lab-processed PCR tests, though argue they deliver cost benefits and the chance to test citizens en-masse in public settings, like airports or concerts.

The Doherty Institute’s deputy director of the microbiological diagnostic unit public health laboratory, Professor Deborah Williamson, said work is still ongoing to determine what role rapid COVID-19 tests should play in Australia.

“At present, there is very limited published data on the clinical performance of these tests. We do know we need to do due diligence to evaluate these. We know they are less sensitive than the PCR testing we are using at the moment.”

Meanwhile, some of the world’s largest diagnostic providers are also considering the role of rapid testing in a world opening up post-pandemic.

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Managing director of Roche Diagnostics Australia, Allison Rossiter, said the company is eyeing the role of rapid tests to add to the company’s portfolio.

Roche has been one of the major importers of COVID-19 tests since the start of the pandemic in Australia, with the demand exceeding the company’s expectations as Victoria hit its stage 4 lockdown.

“By introducing rapid COVID tests with a result in approximately 15 minutes, there is more opportunity to open up testing in a variety of settings, such as at state and international borders, where travellers can wait in a separate area until their results are determined,” Ms Rossiter said.

“We do not see rapid antigen tests replacing PCR, but being another option in the testing arsenal to allow us to get on with our life in the safest way.”

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Local News - Victoria

Regional city goes quiet as community awaits testing results


Mr Dunbabin was awaiting the results of Thursday’s tests to see whether his business might be affected or if he would be deemed a close contact.

“It’s such a fast moving situation. There aren’t really any hard and fast rules,” he said.

People queue for coronavirus testing at Shepparton Showgrounds.

People queue for coronavirus testing at Shepparton Showgrounds. Credit:Simon Schluter

By Thursday afternoon there were still just three confirmed positive cases.

Committee for Greater Shepparton chief executive Sam Birrell said the community had also imposed its own kind of lockdown as a precaution.

“A lot of businesses have gone into a voluntary shutdown for a few days to see how things even out,” he said.

Mr Birrell acknowledged there was frustration that the virus had spread to Shepparton from Melbourne and also with the long testing queues.

Committee for Greater Shepparton chief executive Sam Birrell.

Committee for Greater Shepparton chief executive Sam Birrell. Credit:Simon Schluter

But he said people understood a massive number of tests had to be carried out at short notice.

Goulburn Valley Health had to hastily establish drive-through testing after two of its sites were swamped on Wednesday, reaching capacity by the afternoon.

Long queues again emerged in the early hours of Thursday morning as people returned for testing.

Philip Barca, who owns the Barca.Love restaurant in Shepparton, said the Department of Health had been contacting local businesses, checking whether staff had any coronavirus symptoms, had visited any hotspots or were close contacts of a positive case.

Shepparton restaurateur Philip Barca says business had slowed significantly.

Shepparton restaurateur Philip Barca says business had slowed significantly.Credit:Simon Schluter

He was pleased he could answer no to all of the questions. But Mr Barca said business had slowed substantially. “We had most of our reservations cancelled,” he said.

However, he said that was preferable to a careless attitude among patrons. “I’d prefer them to go and get tested and isolate than come and make it worse.”

He said there was some irritation about the virus spreading to Shepparton, but people were determined to keep the numbers low rather than lashing out in anger.

“I think it’s something that’s got to be accepted.”

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Local News - Victoria

State records six new cases, no deaths as testing steps up in Shepparton


An additional testing site will open on Thursday morning. Australian Defence Force workers and members of nearby rapid response teams will also help to boost testing capacity.

About 20 people were queueing at one of the city’s testing facilities by 6am on Thursday, two hours before it was officially due to open. This rose to about 100 people by 7am, reported Nine’s Today program.

Locals interviewed by Nine expressed frustration at the testing delays and the actions of the man from metropolitan Melbourne who did not disclose to contact tracers that he had travelled to Shepparton after visiting Kilmore on September 30.

“I hope they act swiftly with him, because how can you forget you came to Shepparton?” one man said.

Queues of people waiting to be tested at the COVID-19 in Shepparton again on Thursday morning.

Queues of people waiting to be tested at the COVID-19 in Shepparton again on Thursday morning.

Another said: “I waited in line for five-and-a-half hours [on Wednesday] in the heat only to be turned away.”

The Melbourne man went to a hairdresser, ate at a Thai restaurant and visited a tyre shop in Shepparton.

Under current restrictions, Melburnians are not permitted to dine at regional restaurants or use personal services like hairdressers. Police confirmed on Wednesday night that the man’s case had been referred from DHHS. Police would now determine whether any criminal offences had been committed, a spokesman said.

The Victorian Health Department has urged the Shepparton community to get tested and then self-isolate for two weeks if they visited one of five hospitality or retail venues in Shepparton. Separately, health authorities have also asked the close contacts of these people to also be tested and self-isolate for 14 days.

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Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said on Wednesday the truck driver would have been in isolation on September 30 when he travelled to regional Victoria if the same strategy had been used during the Chadstone outbreak.

People who attended another four exposure sites, including a local Bunnings and McDonald’s, are urged to get tested and self-isolate until they receive their test results. These sites are deemed less risky.

A new testing facility at the Shepparton Sports Precinct, on the corner of Numurkah Road and Brauman Street, will open from 10am-5.30pm at the netball courts carpark and from 12pm at the soccer fields.

Existing testing sites include the McIntosh Centre, Shepparton Respiratory Clinic and Goulburn Valley’s Health’s Acute Respiratory Clinic.

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Sewage testing to catch COVID-19 outbreaks in the pipeline


“We’re relatively confident now that it was probably someone who had already recovered from infection,” said Professor Cheng of the Apollo Bay sample.

Infected people can continue shedding the virus for weeks after they have recovered, meaning Melbourne’s sewage testing results are yet to yield much information of use, because of 620 active cases in Victoria, 595 are in metropolitan Melbourne.

However, experts say the testing will become essential if case numbers within sewage catchments are brought down to zero, as is already the case in some regional communities.

“I think it’s an extremely effective method. But it only works if there is nearly no virus,” said Associate Professor David Anderson, deputy director of Melbourne’s Burnet Institute.

Sewage testing already monitors drug use in the community and checks for other diseases such as polio, but for coronavirus a new test had to be quickly developed by Melbourne Water.

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“It usually takes years to develop this sort of test, so it’s been amazing that they’ve managed to do this in a couple of months,” Professor Cheng said.

He said at present the test could only provide a positive or negative result, although there was a lot of work being done to expand the information it could provide, and the existing test would become increasingly useful as coronavirus cases declined.

“Seven weeks after people recover from infection, they can still shed the virus into wastewater,” Professor Cheng said. “Obviously, there’s been cases in quite a lot of places in the last seven weeks … but as cases start to decrease and we start to tick over the seven weeks, then it certainly will become more useful, particularly in regional Victoria.”

Professor Cheng revealed the Health Department was looking at expanding sewage testing to some specific sites, but it would not be useful at present because there were so many cases around Melbourne.

“Because it is so technically difficult, we can’t do enormous numbers of them, but certainly it’s been looked into and … we are always thinking about the best ways to use these sorts of tools.”

The Grattan Institute’s health program director, Stephen Duckett, said it made sense to test sewage at places where there had been significant outbreaks in the past, such as large aged care homes, hospitals and social housing estates.

“If you’d expect zero [cases] and the sewage system is severable, you can then do it,” he said.

“It is showing they are trying to think proactively about when we get to zero, how we are going to monitor and jump on these outbreaks as quickly as possible.”

Mr Duckett, a former federal Health Department secretary, has advocated for attempts to eradicate coronavirus in Australia and said sewage testing would be an essential part of keeping new cases at zero, alongside regular swab tests.

Professor Cheng said it was important that people continue to get tested for coronavirus if they have symptoms.

“We’re always conscious about what we don’t know, so it is important people get tested,” he said.

“Wastewater testing gives us one additional piece of information, but ultimately what we are trying to do is find people with the infection.”

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Local News - Victoria

Two COVID-19 testing sites close as damaging winds lash Victoria


“The greatest risk is towards the coast – and we’ve already seen lightning activity around Cape Otway – but there’s risk everywhere in southern Victoria,” he said.

“That would be the most likely method of bringing the strong winds.”

Weather warnings are in place for most of the state’s south.

Melbourne, particularly the eastern suburbs, can expect up to 4mm of rain through isolated showers.

The wild winds, well before the expected afternoon change, forced the Health Department to close drive-through COVID-19 testing sites at Casey Fields and Pakenham Recreation Reserve.

Both were open marquees that could be blown away by strong winds and staff were also having trouble writing down details while out in the open, it said in a statement.

The department directed people in those areas to alternative sites nearby, including a walk-through site at Clyde Recreation Reserve football pavilion on Pattersons Road in Clyde. It is open daily from 9am to 4pm.

There is also a walk-through site at 7 Gibb Street in Berwick which is open from 9.30am to 4pm and another drive-through site at 20 Woods Street in Beaconsfield which is open from 8am to 5pm.



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Australian News

more testing clinics set up in Ipswich


New COVID-19 testing clinics will be set up in Brisbane’s south west, after a recent case spent time in the community while infectious.

It comes as Queenslanders are being warned the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, as the state records the second virus-free day in a row.

The state’s chief health officer, Dr Jeannette Young said she was still concerned about “ongoing risk of transmission” around the Ipswich area.

Dr Young said there was one person who had recently been diagnosed with COVID-19 who had been out in the Ipswich area while infectious in the last 14 days.

“Additional clinics will be put in place … we’re asking residents of Goodna, Redbank Plains and Redbank with any symptoms at all to come forward and get tested,” she said.

“We’re looking at putting some additional clinics in place, but at the moment there are several clinics people can go to. You can attend any clinic.

“There are still some chains of transmission we need to cap off.

“We want to find the first case in a cluster, not the fortieth… at that stage it is hard to get on top of it.”

In the last testing period, just 2934 samples were received, well below the state’s testing capability of 10,000 tests per day.

Dr Young said a second COVID-19 free day in row was a promising sign, she had concerns about cases possibly going undetected in the state.

“We will not be in the clear until there has been 14 days without any new cases in the community,” Dr Young said.

“It’s not under control… it’s too early to say it definitely is. We need to wait until we’ve seen two weeks clear.”

It comes as the World Health Organisation confirmed in the last 24 hours, the global case numbers had reached their highest daily tally since the pandemic begun.

Deputy Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles said while there were now only 30 active cases in the state, the pandemic was far from over.

“This hasn’t peaked yet. Sometimes it feels like it’s passed here because we have done so well but we need to remember that globally, this pandemic is getting worse,” he said.

“In Israel, in a bid to deal with their second wave, they’ve gone back into lockdown. Residents there will only be able to move within 500m of their homes for the next three weeks.

“It shows just what could happen if we experience a second wave in Queensland.”

Dr Young said it was “too early to relax”.

“We’re now eight months in and we’re learning more and more about this virus every day … this affects every cell in the body, and leaves long lasting problems for the heart, kidneys, brain and lungs,” she said.

“So it’s really important we minimise the number of people who get this disease.

“This is about people not getting this disease … that’s why we have very strict protocols in place for quarantine.

“There is no clear end to this, we need to work together.”

Mr Miles also hit back at the LNP, who he claims is making the state’s borders a political issue ahead of the October 31 state election.

Queensland’s Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who is expected to front media later today in a separate press conference, has been highly criticised over her state’s strict border measures.

In the last few days, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, and Queensland LNP Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington have all hit out at Ms Palaszczuk over a string of high profile cases of people unable to attend funerals or farewell dying relatives while in quarantine.

Mr Miles said all cases were complex, and the Prime Minister had “made a mistake” when weighing in.

“He was left with egg on his face when the facts of those cases came out,” he said.

“I know our CHO and her team go through all those cases, and… they are as compassionate as they can be, while ensuring Queenslanders are kept safe.”

Rising pressure has meant Dr Young has had to involve a constant police presence as she fends off death threats, something she said had taken an “enormous toll” on her.

“It has taken an enormous toll on me, but then this has taken an enormous toll on every single person in our community,” she said.

“There’s no rule book for dealing with this.”



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South Australia new case, wastewater testing reveals COVID-19 traces


After twelve days of no new COVID-19 cases, South Australian has recorded one new infection and positive traces in its wastewater.

The woman in her 20s, who travelled from Melbourne with three younger cousins, was transiting through SA to visit family in Alice Springs.

SA’s Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said the quartet flew into Adelaide on flight JQ774 on September 3 and all wore masks.

“The Communicable Disease Control Branch have done their usual risk assessment and at this point in time don’t believe anybody is a close contact,” Professor Spurrier said on Saturday.

“We were not expecting this young woman to be coming into SA and our normal procedure would be to book a flight and send her back to Victoria.

“Given she had four younger people with her, we elected to put her in a medi-hotel here.”

The young woman is residing in hotel quarantine in a separate room from her cousins.

Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Chris Lease said two positives were also identified through the state’s wastewater testing program, with one coming from Bolivar and the other from Angaston.

He said the sample from the Bolivar plant was taken on August 26 where a weak positive was returned on August 31 and was reconfirmed on September 1.

However, further sampling on Tuesday returned negative.

The wastewater catchment services about 700,000 houses, serving north and east metropolitan Adelaide, as well as the CBD.

The Angaston sampling was taken on September 3 and a positive was returned on September 4, then confirmed on Saturday.

Its catchment covers about 200,000 houses in the Barossa.

“It’s very difficult, if not impossible, to determine if they’re from a previously announced case or if there are unknown cases within the community. Interpreting these results is a very complicated process,” Dr Lease said.

“They could be from a variety of sources; from visitors to the areas, previous cases, transport routes or people in quarantine.

“We do know the Bolivar catchment zone takes our medi-hotels and both positive results are a strong reminder not to be complacent.”

Professor Spurrier said she did not want people to be scared.

“We’ve been doing wastewater testing for sometime and one reason is because it may be an early surveillance way of checking if we have COVID-19 within the community.

“People may recall the virus, as well as being spread by droplets, is excreted in people’s faeces and that happens for quite a long time after they’ve been positive.”

South Australians were rewarded for their efforts in tackling the virus, with restrictions eased as of midnight last night.

Under the new restrictions, 150 people can now attend weddings and funerals, that capacity of crowds at the football will increase to 15,000 and patrons can be served alcohol and food while seated at the bar.

On Friday, Premier Steven Marshall also urged employees to return to work on the provision businesses and companies have a continuity plan and strict ways of managing common areas.



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