News Coronavirus Testing delays as SA virus cases surge

Testing delays as SA virus cases surge

SA COVID-19 testing
Soaring temperatures have closed COVID-19 testing centres in South Australia. Photo: AAP
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South Australia has reported a fourth consecutive day of record COVID cases as people flock to testing stations, prompting calls for more resources.

SA Health had 105 new infections on Monday, the first time its case numbers have hit triple figures.

The state has 406 active cases, with 342 being managed in home isolation and 59 in hotel quarantine.

Five people are in hospital but none is in intensive care or on a ventilator.

The spike in cases has also prompted record numbers of people to line up for coronavirus tests, with wait times at some drive-through centres in Adelaide blowing out to several hours.

Opposition Health spokesman Chris Picton said the state government assured the public that authorities were prepared for the opening of borders last month and testing capacity was adequate.

“However, in the past week we’ve seen South Australians waiting hours to do the right thing and get tested,” he said.

“The demand on testing was always going to increase after the borders opened and COVID cases in our community increased.”

Mr Picton said the government must urgently provide the resources required to deal with the increase in demand.

On Friday, 19,232 tests were conducted while on Saturday the number dipped to 16,879 before surging again on Sunday to 20,223.

Chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier said it was a case of “all hands on deck for us”.

However, she said SA Health was battling a shortage of labour along with other sectors of the state’s economy.

“I think there’s a shortage of people across the board because our international borders have been shut,” she told ABC radio on Monday.

“We have certainly been recruiting and training.

“As a community, we just have to be mindful that there’s only a certain number of people in South Australia that can do these jobs.”

Premier Steven Marshall said about 300 extra staff had been deployed by SA Pathology in recent weeks to cater for the increased demand

“We’ll continue to look at all of our resources, these are constantly under review as we progress through different stages of the disease,” he said.

SA is also considering a more widespread rollout of rapid antigen tests which are currently only used in health care settings and in some specific sectors including the mining industry.

Mr Marshall said the tests would be made more broadly available to the SA community “at the appropriate time”.

He also criticised the actions of a man who spent several hours at a city nightclub at the weekend after being informed by text that he had tested positive for the virus.

Police are investigating the case but Mr Marshall said the man’s actions were regrettable and had caused strong public outrage.

“It serves as a lesson to everybody that while we’ve done well as a state, it does rely on everybody doing the right thing,” he said.

“If you get a lawful direction from SA Health, you must abide by it.”