Early virus lockdown call may save SA

Premier Steven Marshall is grateful the state moved into lockdown on Tuesday, rather than wait.
Premier Steven Marshall is grateful the state moved into lockdown on Tuesday, rather than wait.

An early lockdown call may yet spare South Australia from an extended period of high coronavirus restrictions even as the state's cluster of cases continues to grow.

Premier Steven Marshall says he's very grateful the state moved into lockdown on Tuesday as waiting any longer could have been catastrophic.

"I'm still extraordinarily hopeful we can stop the spread of this disease over the seven-day lockdown period," he said.

"This is a tough challenge but the way that we do it in South Australia is by working together.

"There's no doubt lockdowns put a heavy toll on our economy, but we've got to weigh up the consequences if we just let this run.

"Our mantra from day one has been to go hard and go early."

Two new locally acquired infections were reported on Thursday, taking the current outbreak to 14.

The new infections are a brother and sister in their 20s who attended the Tenafeate Creek winery, north of Adelaide, at the weekend.

Seven cases, including a child under five, are now linked to the venue, which is considered one of two superspreader events.

SA's second superspreader site is The Greek restaurant in the city, where a number of infected people dined last Saturday and one staff member has since tested positive.

The number of SA exposure sites has also grown to more than 70 with over 13,600 people in home quarantine or under orders to get tested.

Chief Public Health Office Nicola Spurrier said the two new cases had isolated from Monday night but their movements would result in more exposure sites being identified.

She said 91 people were linked to The Greek and 125 to the winery during the periods of concern.

They are being moved into hotel quarantine to help prioritise testing and because of their high risk of having the virus.

Professor Spurrier said she was no more or no less optimistic about containing the current cluster with SA just two days into its lockdown.

"We've still got two high-risk exposure sites. I'll feel more comfortable when we've got all those negative results (from those sites)," she said.

"I'm also comforted by the fact that South Australians generally do the right thing.

"When we have a lockdown they generally do the right thing."

The growing cluster has prompted a huge increase in testing with 17,592 swabs taken on Wednesday, a record for a single day in SA.

The premier apologised for long delays at testing sites and understood that some people were frustrated at having to wait many hours.

But he said authorities were working hard to increase capacity and he hoped wait times would ease during the next 24 hours.

SA's virus cluster is linked to an 81-year-old man who recently arrived in Australia from Argentina and was quarantined in Sydney before travelling to Adelaide, where he tested positive.

Genomic testing has confirmed the man became infected while in Sydney, not while in Argentina.

Under the week-long lockdown, which started on Tuesday evening, South Australians are only allowed out for five reasons - to provide essential care, to seek medical assistance, to buy essential food and other goods, for essential work, or to exercise for up to two-and-a-half hours.

They must also wear masks when outside their homes.

Schools have closed along with most retail outlets and all construction work has ceased.

Australian Associated Press