SA Pathology to monitor corona virus outbreaks in aged care homes

A new pathology team has been assembled to identify and trace any future corona virus outbreaks in nursing homes, as South Australia prepares to re-open public pools and libraries and enable limited outdoor dining at restaurants and cafes.

From Monday, funerals will be allowed to host up to 20 people indoors and 30 people outdoors, university and TAFE students will be able to attend some tutorials and community clubs including RSLs will be able to host up to 10 people.

In addition, non-contact sports training, church services, and real estate auctions and inspections will reopen with a maximum of 10 people.

Restrictions on caravan and camping in regional South Australia will also ease.

There were no new cases of COVID-19 recorded in the state on Saturday or Sunday last week.

Only one new case has been identified in more than two weeks, bringing the total number of cases diagnosed to 439 so far.

There is just one active case of COVID-19 left in the state.

SA Health has urged people to take care around increasingly busy retail precincts in Adelaide by maintaining social distancing and good hand hygiene.

Pathology team to monitor aged care homes

On Sunday afternoon, Health Minister Stephen Wade announced the establishment of a dedicated SA Pathology team to identify COVID-19 cases in the state's nursing homes.

He drew attention to figures from Australia and the United States, saying about a third of each country's total deaths had been linked to aged care facilities.

He said both in Australia and overseas, "COVID clusters are often associated with aged care facilities".

"The way to stop a case from becoming a cluster and a cluster from becoming an outbreak is to identify and isolate cases quickly.

"A dedicated SA Pathology team has been assembled to respond to any COVID-19 outbreaks in aged care and other residential facilities."

SA Pathology's clinical director Tom Dodd said the team of 12 nurses would be able to "rapidly respond to any call for swabbing of a large number of people" in a residential care facility.

He said the team, based in Adelaide, could be expanded if needed.

"So we would be able to have our staff onsite within a matter of a few hours."

He said the plan would be to put some initial swabs through the "rapid 60-minute testing cycle" to establish whether there was a case.

Influenza and other viral swabbing would also be undertaken, before swabbing all others within the facility.

"That way, we can be very confident that we've identified any cases of COVID, and then allow the clinical teams to take over and introduce whatever management and isolation would be required for people living in those circumstances."

SA Pathology has worked through more than 69,000 tests to date.

In the past week, about 1,500 tests a day have been undertaken, Dr Dodd said.

SA Health Minister Stephen Wade said that from Monday, daily corona virus press conferences may be scrapped and a statement issued instead.

Travelers told to record names, phone numbers of contacts

People deemed to be essential travelers to South Australia will, from tomorrow, have to keep detailed records of all of the people with whom they come into contact for 14 days.

Starting Monday, essential travelers must record the name and contact details of every person they come within 1.5 metres of for more than 15 minutes, and anyone they spend two hours or more with, inside an enclosed space.

If it is not practical to get people's names and contacts details, essential travelers will still have to record the time and location of the close contact.

Essential travelers include emergency and medical services professionals, freight workers, specialists with skills that are otherwise unavailable in South Australia and people visiting terminally ill relatives.

Also from Monday, workers in the agriculture and primary industries sector will no longer be considered essential workers and will have to self-quarantine for 14 days before to taking up employment in SA.


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SA Pathology to monitor corona virus outbreaks in aged care homes as state readies for loosened restrictions

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