Adelaide cluster forces border closures

Daniel McCulloch and Paul Osborne
·3-min read

Australia's top medical adviser is confident South Australia can get on top of a cluster which has grown to 17 cases and compelled other states and territories to close their borders to SA.

Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly convened an emergency meeting of the nation's key health advice panel on Monday to discuss the SA situation.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also contacted SA Premier Steve Marshall to offer any federal resources necessary to deal with the outbreak, including the help of the Australian Defence Force and an aged care team.

"I do firmly believe that the South Australian authorities with that support from others, will be able to get on top of this," Prof Kelly told reporters in Melbourne.

Mr Morrison said there were "no absolute fail-safes" when it came to the coronavirus.

"It is not a surprise that that can occur from a quarantined facility - what matters is how you respond in these situations," he said.

The prime minister, who has been working with the premiers on the economy and community activities reopening by Christmas, said the immediate response from the other states and territories to reimpose restrictions would be "temporary".

"What is important is these don't get sort of locked in as part of another enduring disruption, and as soon as South Australia is able to get on top of this I would expect that states would keep on the path that we have set towards Christmas."

All inbound international flights to Adelaide have been suspended for the rest of the week to ease the burden on hotel quarantine facilities.

Both the quarantine and contact tracing systems across the country have been the subject of expert reviews, with this advice being heeded in SA.

SA Health published on its website a full list of locations, including bus stops, restaurants, coffee shops and medical facilities, as part of its contact tracing program.

"We will throw absolutely everything at this to get on top of the cluster," Mr Marshall said.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian confirmed her state would not close to SA and urged other states to have faith in their health systems.

"We need to learn to live with COVID," she told reporters in Sydney.

"You can't open and shut borders and change things overnight every time there's an outbreak."

However, Queensland, Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania announced broad travel restrictions on arrivals from Adelaide on Monday.

Canberra residents are being asked to reconsider all non-urgent travel to SA.

Victoria, which has gone 17 days straight without a coronavirus case, imposed extra screening on arrivals from SA.

Victorian Premier Dan Andrews said it would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

"When a person arrives at the airport there will be a sit down with them - symptoms, have you been to any specific locations, rapid testing may be a feature of that," he said.

Health Minister Greg Hunt, Professor Kelly and Mr Morrison visited Melbourne on Monday to announce a new, hi-tech vaccine manufacturing facility.

The government struck a $1 billion deal with Seqirus, a subsidiary of CSL, to rapidly manufacture vaccines in response to future pandemics.