“We are in a very, very dangerous situation,” Premier Steven Marshall said on Monday, urging residents to get tested if they have symptoms. He said his government would consider tougher social distancing restrictions if necessary, adding that “we will do whatever it takes to get the upper hand on this cluster.”
State public health official Nicola Spurrier said the cases were linked to a “medical hotel” where one of the infected people worked, the Australian Broadcasting Corp reported. These facilities are used by inbound travelers and local residents who cannot safely quarantine in their homes.
The outbreak in South Australia comes just after the country’s eight states and territories dismantled internal border restrictions that have controlled the spread of the pandemic but weighed on the economy. Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, emerged from a three-month lockdown this month and has not recorded a new case of covid for more than two weeks.
Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory have declared South Australia a viral hotspot, meaning visitors to that state will be forced to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who wants internal border restrictions lifted as the country enters the peak summer vacation season, on Monday called the epidemic “very worrying”.
The outbreak has been a “wake-up call for the whole country, especially for states and territories that were behind borders” and may have become complacent about adhering to Covid-safe protocols due to their low levels of transmissions community, Morrison said.
(Updates with more details throughout)
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