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SA health authorities backtrack on coronavirus blunder

Dr Spurrier has ordered immediate mass testing. Photo: ABC News
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South Australian health authorities have walked back from their claim Victoria did not tell them about a British woman who arrived in Adelaide from Melbourne and later tested positive for coronavirus.

After initially insisting Victorian officials did not tell them when the woman would arrive, Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier issued a statement conceding the flight information was passed on.

“Due to an administrative oversight, we can confirm the relevant flight details involving an overseas traveller arriving in South Australia were provided to SA Health prior to their arrival,” Professor Spurrier said on Thursday.

“What this issue has highlighted is the need to strengthen the processes involving travellers arriving from overseas and travelling between states during their quarantine period.”

Professor Spurrier said she would work with her federal and state counterparts to ensure all cases involving interstate transfers were reviewed and managed to a consistently high standard.

The woman, aged in her 50s, travelled to the state on Sunday after being granted an exemption on compassionate grounds to visit a dying relative.

She had spent about a week in quarantine in Victoria after arriving in Australia from the UK and had tested negative while in isolation.

She wore a mask while travelling to South Australia and made herself known to airport authorities and was then escorted out by police.

When tested again, she returned the positive result, becoming South Australia’s 440th case of COVID-19 and the first for almost three weeks.

The woman was returned to quarantine while almost 20 close contacts were also ordered into self-isolation.

South Australia’s Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier told ABC Radio Adelaide that SA Health officials only became aware of the woman’s arrival when she self-declared at Adelaide Airport on the weekend.

Dr Spurrier said Victorian authorities emailed their South Australian counterparts on Saturday night, but did not provide further “critical” detail about when the woman would be travelling to Adelaide.

That version of events was subsequently disputed by Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton.

“They were alerted, I’ve got the email that was sent prior to that with flight details, with the time and place of arrival,” Dr Sutton said.

“I’m not sure why there’s a misunderstanding about having been informed.

“That email was sent and South Australian authorities were alerted about the time and the flight details.”

-with AAP