Current Issue #487

New COVID-19 case breaks South Australia’s fortnight-long zero streak

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A previously undetected case of COVID-19 in a man who arrived from the UK well over a month ago has broken South Australia’s 14-day run without any new cases.

SA Health revealed yesterday that a man in his 70s had become the 439th reported COVID-19 case in South Australia. The man flew into Adelaide on 20 March from the United Kingdom, where it is likely he contracted the virus. Like all overseas arrivals who have touched down in Australia since 15 March, he undertook a 14-day period of self-isolation. Soon after, he experienced a loss of taste and smell, but did not seek testing as such symptoms were not widely associated with COVID-19 at the time.

“He was not infectious on the flight, so that is very reassuring for people,” Chief Public Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier explained in yesterday’s public briefing. “He developed very mild symptoms on 24 March, they were so mild it was only a loss of sense of taste and sense of smell. At the time we were not messaging about that as a reason to get tested, but because in the blitz we also had a new case that was in the same situation, we started telling the public about this as one of the symptoms of COVID-19.”

The man was finally tested on 5 May, returning a positive result. Despite the lengthy gap between his arrival and the date of detection, Spurrier said the risk of community transmission was low; while one could still test positive after 46 days, most available evidence suggests that the risk of transmission drops off around 8 days after a patient starts displaying symptoms. So while it might still be in their system, the risk of them further spreading the virus during that long tail is low.

“Because this gentleman has made a decision to immigrate to Australia – and in fact his wife had already come to Australia – and he was in quarantine, he actually doesn’t know many people in South Australia, and because of his age as well he’s actually remained quite isolated.”

During this period the man came into close contact with five people, all of whom are currently isolating and being monitored for symptoms.

“We feel quite confident here that we do not have another case of community transmission, and that’s very reassuring for the community.”

The man is one of only two active cases in the state, despite of authorities mounting an aggressive testing campaign that has seen 65,000 people tested. 433 people have now been cleared of the virus.


Walter Marsh

Walter Marsh

Digital Editor
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Walter is a writer, editor and broadcaster living on Kaurna Country.

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