The government will continue quarantining returning Australians in hotels, but anyone confirmed to have the virus will be shuttled to Tom’s Court Hotel in Adelaide starting next week.
Health Minister Stephen Wade said this move marked a “significant enhancement” of the state’s quarantine system.
“There is never zero risks of COVID-19 entering South Australia, and it is crucial we put as many shields as possible between the virus and the community,” Wade said in a statement.
Under the new plan, the brand-new, 72-bed facility will be exclusively staffed by health staff and police who are not deployed to other high-risk locations, including hospitals, aged care homes, and correctional centres.
Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Emily Kirkpatrick said that the government chose Tom’s Court hotel after a comprehensive and selective process, involving health officials and police.
“The facility includes four rooms with apartment-style facilities suitable to accommodate families and two purpose-built disability suites, with many of the rooms having balconies and opening windows providing fresh air to the rooms,” Kirkpatrick said.
“Most importantly, its central location will allow for a rapid transfer to the Royal Adelaide Hospital should it be required.”
SA Health has made some modifications to heating ventilation and air-conditioning systems to ensure that the hotel meets their requirements, and installed more cameras to upgrade CCTV coverage. Additionally, quarantine staff will be able to lodge separate to their families.
“All staff working in Tom’s Court will also still have access to a separate facility, so they have the option to rest away from their home and family if required,” Kirkpatrick said.
The government initially signed up for a six-month agreement with Tom’s Court, and staff has had access from Monday to familiarise themselves with the site and enter training before admitting guests.
Currently those required to quarantine on entry to Australia are tested on days one, five, and 12.
However New South Wales has introduced a test on day 16 after a returned traveller tested positive two days after being released from quarantine.
SA is now also considering adding an additional test to pick up cases developed at the tail end of the isolation period.