South Australia’s health chief has revealed an urgent investigation has been launched into the latest twist in the state’s COVID-19 crisis.
Concerns are growing over the efficacy of the state’s medi-hotel system as it’s revealed two new cases announced on Tuesday are linked to the Parafield cluster.
The two patients caught the infection while quarantined in Peppers Hotel.
Health authorities say the two new cases have been genomically linked to the northern suburbs outbreak but aren’t close contacts of a known case, raising questions as to just how they were infected in what’s supposed to be a fully-secure environment.
Chief Public Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier uncharacteristically hit out at a hastily-convened press conference after the new infections were announced.
She refused to answer questions on just how the virus was being transferred between guests and workers, saying the cases are a reminder of “just how infectious” it is.
“I knew COVID-19 was highly transmissable… but it is even more transmissable than I initially thought,” she said.
“We have the best PPE and best systems set up – and that’s been documented by a national review – but you can still transmit this virus.”
Spurrier says details will be made available into the new cases but said the infections are a stark reminder we “still don’t know everything” about the disease.
“Everyone who needs to be in quarantine is… we need to determine exactly how this has been transmitted, then we need to make changes.”
Despite the fresh concerns, the health chief says she doesn’t believe anyone was in the “wrong room at the wrong time”.
“At the end of the day, please can I remind you, there is never zero risk,” she said.
“We can be cleared of the virus in South Australia and not have it for many months but we do not eliminate the risk of getting it back.”
All staff members will be tested as authorities work to trace just how the outbreak occurred.
Lockdown ‘liar’ speaks out
The medi-hotel twist comes as the pizza bar worker at the centre of a major investigation breaks his silence.
The 36-year-old Spaniard says he is “extremely remorseful” as officers attempt to piece together what led to the contact tracing debacle.
His lawyer, Scott Jelbert, says the worker is “sincerely concerned” about the impact of the short-lived three day “circuit breaker” lockdown.
Assistant Commissioner Peter Harvey is looking into just how the worker was able to mislead authorities to the point where some of the world’s toughest COVID-19 restrictions were deemed necessary.
A number of the the 36-year-old’s electronic devices are being analysed by digital forensics.
Officers are also trawling through 400 hours of CCTV footage to determine whether there is evidence of any criminal activity linked to the Woodville Pizza Bar.