She savaged a man for ‘breaching’ mandatory quarantine and sparking an urgent health alert, then Nicola Spurrier made a stunning about-face.
South Australian health authorities have issued a public apology to the man they claimed breached quarantine to go shopping, now saying he did nothing wrong.
SA Health’s Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said the man “was never directed to quarantine by SA Health or SAPOL and therefore has done nothing wrong” because he was a casual contact.
“There was no further communication from SA Health with this individual following his negative test result,” she said.
“He has not breached quarantine and he has been fully cooperative with our contact tracing efforts which are aimed at stopping the spread of the virus any further.
“I would personally like to apologise for this miscommunication and thank him for continuing to work with us.”
The reversal came as authorities announced the state was on track to ease restrictions on Tuesday, after recording zero new infections on Monday.
On Sunday, it was announced that a man had breached his quarantine and gone on a shopping spree, visiting seven businesses across Adelaide while infectious on the previous Sunday.
Hundreds of shoppers have been asked to get tested if they attended the same locations as the infected man.
The man, in his 30s, is a student at the Intensive English Language Institute located at Flinders University’s Sturt campus.
On Monday SA’s deputy chief public health officer Emily Kirkpatrick said the man was a casual contact who had in fact done the right thing by getting tested on day one and day 12.
The man was told to get tested and self-isolate until he received a negative result, and get another test 12 days later.
He tested positive to the day-12 test.
“He was never given a formal direction to quarantine for the 14 days … He did get tested on day one and isolated until his test results came back negative,” Ms Kirkpatrick said.
“This person has done the right thing and was part of the casual contact group under a lower risk profile so it is important to emphasise we’re not about blaming individuals. We’re about making sure people go and get tested.
“We at SA Health have cast the net widely to make sure we are not missed individuals as part of this … so that will ensure there is no need to differentiate casual and close contacts.
“Everyone is included under that direction and required to get tested on day one and 12 so there should not be any confusion going forward.
“It has been a very confusing two weeks for the community … so fingers crossed we get through this quickly.”
Police Commissioner Grant Stevens, who is also the State Coordinator, said he was “pleased to announce” there would be no late changes following the promising zero cases on Monday.
“I’ve had discussions with (SA) Health over the weekend and today and we’re still on track for midnight tonight to take that first step towards where we want to be by December 14,” he said.
Under the changes, a 1 per 4 sqm density will remain for indoor activities but a 1 per 2 sqm rule applies outdoors and stand-up drinking will be allowed.
A patron cap in licensed premises will be removed on the proviso that QR code readers are used at all venues.
Funerals and private functions can have up to 150 people with stand-up drinking, while weddings, also capped at 150, can have drinking and dancing.
However, a cap of 10 people remains for home gatherings.
Community sport will resume under modified plans to limit potential virus spread.
A SA Health COVID management plan will need to be approved for gatherings of up to 1000 people and at nightclubs.
Masks are also required in Allied Health, residential care, and personal care services.
The border with Victoria will open at midnight on Monday.
“We still require people to do the online pre approval process … It will be as streamlined as possible,” Commissioner Stevens said.
“One major factor for us (police) is the volume of people travelling to and from SA. We don‘t want to inhibit people anymore than we need to but we need to know that what we’re doing does something to minimise risk.’
There were 4234 tests conducted on Sunday, something Ms Kirkpatrick was thrilled about.
She again urged anyone experiencing the mildest of symptoms to get tested immediately and stressed the importance of wearing a mask.
“We’ve seen a fantastic uptake of testing this morning and yesterday so very pleased to see that,” she said.
“We are expecting to see that number significantly higher tomorrow as we see more results coming through the laboratory.”
People were seen queuing at the Thebarton and Kurralta Park pop up testing sites early Monday morning.
Ms Kirkpatrick said the testing site at the Thebarton Community Centre will remain open until Friday.
The state’s total number of coronavirus cases remains at 561, with 14 considered active.
There are 33 cases still connected to the Parafield cluster, with about 1300 people quarantining over links to the group.