Warning issued about interstate travellers
A top doctor has warned the biggest COVID-19 risk is now from essential workers and other travellers from around Australia.
South Australia's chief public health officer Nicola Spurrie sounded the alarm on Tuesday.
Our biggest risk now in South Australia is travellers coming into the state," Professor Spurrier told The Advertiser.
"We don't want to have even one new case or see a new cluster in South Australia, so it is really important we don't become complacent. Let's not undo all the good."
The coronavirus pandemic has severely limited travel throughout Australia - and beyond - in recent weeks.
Australia has now recorded almost 6850 cases of COVID-19, with 3035 in New South Wales, 1423 in Victoria, 1043 in Queensland, 438 in South Australia, 551 in Western Australia, 223 in Tasmania, 107 in the Australian Capital Territory and 29 in the Northern Territory.
The death toll stands at 97.
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Warning issues about interstate travellers
South Australia's top doctor has sounded the alarm over coronavirus cases coming from interstate as the state government prepares to open up regional tourism.
SA's chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier says the biggest COVID-19 risk is now from essential workers and other travellers from interstate.
Premier Steven Marshall plans to lift warnings and restrictions on travel within SA, but Prof Spurrier called for vigilance on the borders.
"Our biggest risk now in South Australia is travellers coming into the state," Prof Spurrier told The Advertiser.
"We don't want to have even one new case or see a new cluster in South Australia, so it is really important we don't become complacent. Let's not undo all the good." The coronavirus pandemic has severely limited travel to regional centres and the SA outback in recent weeks.
For some areas, the pandemic has compounded issues brought on by years of drought and summer's devastating bushfires.
Mr Marshall says the regions have been "doing it really tough". "We've had dry conditions for much of South Australia for the last three, four or five years, we've had bushfires and now COVID-19, which is really drying up jobs," he said.
"So we're really keen to see the restrictions regarding regional tourism released." SA could potentially on Wednesday mark two weeks without any new COVID-19 infections, a milestone that Prof Spurrier says highlights the importance of maintaining border restrictions.
"Despite being almost two weeks with no cases, we're still seeing new outbreaks and clusters forming interstate, particularly in Victoria," Prof Spurrier said. "Although we have very strong border controls, thousands of essential travellers are still coming into our state and I am concerned there's a risk someone may bring COVID-19 infection with them.
"We absolutely understand the border controls and quarantine requirements can make it difficult to stay in touch with loved ones, but as long as there is COVID-19, there is always a local threat." The state's tally remains at 438 with only five of those cases considered active, including two people who are still in hospital.
SA has conducted 62,000 tests for the virus since February.
COVID-19 cluster at Vic meat plant grows
Almost a dozen more cases of coronavirus have been confirmed at a Melbourne meat processing facility, as the state government reveals another $491 million in tax relief and frozen fees.
Treasurer Tim Pallas on Tuesday confirmed 17 new cases of COVID-19 in Victoria, 11 of which are connected to a cluster of infected workers at the Cedar Meats facility in Brooklyn.
The first case at the facility was confirmed more than a month ago, but the plant was not considered an exposure site, The Australian newspaper reports. The department of health said the first case was recorded on April 2 but the person infected had not been at work while contagious, so the workplace was not considered an exposure site.
The second case linked to the workplace was diagnosed on April 24, followed by a third case the day after.
The department then took further action, including testing all staff, on April 29.
All 350 staff were tested for COVID-19 by May 1 and the site has been shut down. A total of 45 cases have now been linked to the plant.
"This is the nature of the pandemic event, you will see clusters emerge over time," Mr Pallas said.
The new cases have brought the state's tally so far to 1423, although only 112 are active. Twelve people are in hospital, including six in intensive care. On a day when he was meant to deliver Victoria's now-delayed budget, Mr Pallas also revealed an extra $491 million in virus relief measures. Businesses participating in the federal government's JobKeeper scheme will be exempt from payroll tax, at a cost of about $225 million to the state.
They also won't have to pay WorkCover premiums on payments to their employees if their staff are currently stood down, costing the state about $200 million. There are more than 80,000 businesses in Victoria who are either participating in
JobKeeper or have expressed interest in doing so.
Some fines and fees will also be kept at their current rates in the coming year to save Victorians from coughing up about $66 million.
They include drivers licences and vehicle registration and the fire services property levy.
"The last thing we want to do is to add to pressures on people who are currently dealing with the difficulties associated with the pandemic event," Mr Pallas told reporters.
- Marnie Banger and Benita Kolovos, AAP
Originally published as Warning issued about interstate travellers