News Coronavirus South Australia works to contain outbreak as Europe, US face soaring cases
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South Australia works to contain outbreak as Europe, US face soaring cases

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South Australians have been issued a “wake-up call” as a prison worker in Adelaide became the fourth person to test positive in a fresh COVID cluster.

The employee at Yatala Labour Prison in Adelaide’s northern suburbs is the latest person linked to the cluster, which had grown to 17 by Monday morning.

It was discovered after an 80-year-old woman was tested for the virus when she went to a hospital emergency department in Adelaide’s north.

Two of her family members – a woman in her 50s and man in his 60s – were also among the earliest to be confirmed with the virus. The man works in a medi-hotel that has been used for quarantining travellers and local residents.

South Australians have been told to brace for more infections as health workers race to contain the outbreak and order dozens of people into quarantine.

Chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier said the alarming cluster appeared to have been started by the quarantine worker.

“I am expecting that we will have more cases,” she said.

The fourth infected person, who has been identified as a prison worker, is a close family contact of one of the positive cases, according to an email from SA Correctional Services chief executive David Brown.

The email, cited by the ABC, does not make clear whether the person worked at the Adelaide prison while infectious.

But it isn’t taking any chances.

A rapid response team is assisting the Department of Corrections with contact-tracing, as all workers have been asked to remain at their posts.

The infected people are from a very large family, four of whom are already showing symptoms.

Their test results are expected later in the day.

The woman in her 80s at the centre of the outbreak, who normally lives independently, is in isolation at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

She is the mother of one of the younger pair, who are in a relationship.

Contact tracing is also underway for about 90 staff and patients at the Lyell McEwin Hospital who might have come into contact with the older woman.

The woman also visited Parafield Plaza Supermarket in Adelaide’s north while infectious.

Meanwhile, in Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews celebrated the “positive news” on Sunday of “more than a fortnight now with no extra cases” – further proof the state has conquered its deadly second wave.

On Monday, a study published in the Medical Journal of Australia revealed how strict public health measures worked to protect the Northern Territory from COVID-19.

So far, not a single Territorian has died from the coronavirus.

A separate study, also published in the MJA on Monday, explained how Royal Melbourne Hospital used a range of infection-control measures to overcome the nation’s largest institutional coronavirus outbreak among health workers.

It appears the world is watching Australia, too.

‘COVID-safe’ status is making us the envy of the world

Authorities in Ireland and other European countries have been so impressed by Victoria’s containment of COVID-19 that they’ve been calling on chief health officer Brett Sutton for advice.

But Professor Sutton’s status as a global leader in the fight against the virus doesn’t mean he’s exempt from his own restrictions.

On Saturday, as Melburnians travelled beyond the city’s ‘ring of steel’ for the first time in months, a brewery in the alpine town of Bright turned away Professor Sutton after reaching capacity under strict virus guidelines.

“Sorry you couldn’t get on the beers Mr Sutton,” the brewery wrote on its Facebook page.

While Professor Sutton accepted his rejection in good humour, overseas the mood is much less jolly.

The global death toll climbed above 1.3 million over the weekend, and more than 53 million people have been infected worldwide.

As crowds of protesters continue to gather post-election, the United States is breaking new coronavirus records.

Trump loyalists demonstrate in Washington. Photo: Getty

Infections surged to another single-day record on Friday (local time), surpassing 180,000 for the first time, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

Hospitals are filling up across the states, with Texan health authorities doubling their supply of mobile morgues in El Paso.

Meanwhile in Europe, Germany reported 23,542 new coronavirus infections within 24 hours on Friday – its highest daily tally since the start of the pandemic.

The nation went into lockdown on November 2, though shops and schools have been allowed to remain open.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to hold talks with state premiers on Monday to review the measures.

Germany’s COVID response was cast into the spotlight over the weekend after a cheeky government video urging people to stay home went viral.

Neighbouring Austria has ramped up restrictions by moving from a night curfew and partial shutdown to a second national lockdown that will be enforced for at least two and a half weeks.

Schools will close on Tuesday, and Austrians have been urged not to meet anyone from outside their household after the country recorded a high of 9586 daily infections on Friday.

In Britain, the next two weeks will be “absolutely crucial” if the nation’s lockdown is to end as planned on December 2, according to a government scientific adviser.

That means the public must stay the course and resist breaking coronavirus restrictions if they want to spend Christmas with loved ones, Professor Susan Michie told BBC Radio 4’s Today program.

-with AAP