Covid-19 Australia: South Australia plunges into lockdown as state records two new cases

South Australia will be locked down from 6pm tonight after recording two more new cases of Covid overnight, bringing the total for the state to five.

Starting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, the entire state will be locked down for seven days with just five reasons for people to leave its homes.

‘We are dealing with another highly contagious variant. We saw this in Victoria. We don’t want this to go through the state, as we’ve seen elsewhere,” Prime Minister Stephen Marshall said on Tuesday.

People will be able to leave their homes for reasons of concern and compassion, to exercise, for essential work, to obtain essential supplies and for medical reasons.

“What we have seen in Victoria is a very rapid movement from Greater Melbourne. We now have a worrying case in Mildura,” Marshall said.

“This is a disease that moves quickly. Until we have a better understanding of how widespread this is, we need to take action to keep the state safe.”

The state health official, Dr. Nicola Spurrier, confirmed the state’s cases were the delta variant of Covid.

On Monday, the state registered a fourth case of Covid-19 as the state embarked on a round of tough new restrictions and authorities rush to contain an outbreak of infection amid a growing list of exposure sites.

It now concerns an 81-year-old man who entered the country from Argentina, his daughter and two more men.

Prime Minister Steven Marshall told Adelaide Radio 5AA ahead of an official briefing on Tuesday, the fourth case identified overnight was a man in close contact with the elderly man who was already in quarantine.

Marshall also said more testing sites would open in Adelaide on Thursday, amid long lines at testing facilities on Monday and early Tuesday.

The outbreak has quarantined thousands of people with the list of more than a dozen exposure sites, including at least four major shopping centers in Adelaide’s northern and northeastern suburbs.

“We only have one chance to get this right. Our focus from day one was to go fast and go early to minimize disruption,” Mr Marshall said Monday.

“We have to react quickly.”

Multiple new exposure sites linked to a person with COVID-19 were revealed late Monday, including a Coles supermarket in the Greenacres Shopping Center in the north east of Adelaide and a number of shops and a TAB in Munno Para in the north.

The new restrictions in SA include a change to the density of one person per four square meters in all locations, while all team and contact sports have been canceled.

All diners must sit with a ban on dancing and singing.

Masks should be used in all indoor public areas, including shopping malls and also on public transport and in high-risk environments.

Fitness centers are closed along with other non-essential shops.

Supermarkets and pharmacies and other essential businesses will continue to trade.

Family gatherings, including weddings and funerals, are limited to 10 people, but schools will remain open.

The new rules will be evaluated on Friday.

Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said that while SA did not proceed with a full shutdown, the restrictions were significant.

“The intent here is to drastically suppress all discretionary activity in the community,” he said Monday.

The elderly man had returned to Australia via NSW, where he had been quarantined for 14 days.

He returned to SA on July 8 and went to a suburban hospital over the weekend after developing symptoms and was later admitted.

Adelaide’s other positive cases have been transferred to the Tom’s Court Hotel, which is being used to quarantine all people with an active infection.

‘We are not drawing any conclusions about where this infection comes from. We just don’t know and it’s still very early,” Marshall said Monday.

“Our primary concern right now is to quarantine anyone who may have come into contact with this person as soon as possible.”

Martin Haese, Chief Executive of Business SA, said the new restrictions are another blow to the already struggling hospitality, events, tourism and retail sectors.

“We hope the restrictions will not be extended after Friday.”