SA virus measures to stay amid good signs

SA chief health officer Nicola Spurrier says it's much too early to lift COVID-19 restrictions.
SA chief health officer Nicola Spurrier says it's much too early to lift COVID-19 restrictions.

It's too early to talk about lifting restrictions in place in response to the coronavirus pandemic despite signs the curve is continuing to flatten, South Australian health officials say.

SA recorded just 11 new cases on Friday, taking the state's total to 396.

Eighteen of those remain in hospital, including eight in intensive care, with the rest either recovered or being cared for at home.

Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said the smaller number of new cases was encouraging, and the vast majority of SA's cases were still linked to overseas or domestic travel.

But she said she was still waiting to see what would happen in terms of broader community transmission.

"We're in a very good position in South Australia because of the level of testing we've been doing for a long time," Professor Spurrier said.

"We feel quite confident about picking up cases.

"But this is a new situation. We've never been in it before and I don't have a crystal ball.

"We are just going to have to be very, very vigilant because if we have one case that passes it on to a group of people, we will again see significant numbers."

However, the state government, police and health officials, have ruled out the need at this stage for tougher border measures in line with other states.

They said the concept of a "hard" border closure was not considered necessary considering the number of people coming into SA and the strong level of compliance with self-isolation provisions.

Since the border restrictions were put in place 9500 people have been checked by police.

About half of those have been ordered into 14-day isolation with the rest deemed to be essential travellers.

"We do monitor what's happening in other jurisdictions, but we take it from a South Australian perspective," Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said.

"At this point, I don't see a need to strengthen what we're already doing."

Meanwhile, police have banned the use of so-called pinprick tests to detect the coronavirus.

The serology antibody tests can return results in about 30 minutes but are only accurate if antibodies are present in the blood which can take between five and seven days after infection.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration says because antibody tests do not detect active viral shedding, they cannot determine if an individual is infectious.

That could result in false-negative results.

Mr Stevens said any doctors or individuals who used the test could be subject to a fine or prosecution.

"The last thing we want is for people to undertake a test that gives them a false sense of security that they are able to move freely in the community when they may actually be infecting people," he said.

Australian Associated Press