SA could open to NSW as soon as tomorrow

 

NSW or ACT residents could enter South Australia without self-isolating as soon as Tuesday.

The announcement to reopen borders could come after the state's transition committee meets on Tuesday morning.

Premier Steven Marshall said he was keen to open the border the minute he got the advice it was safe to do so.

"We've done so well in SA by listening to that expert advice so that's what we'll continue to do," he said on Monday.

"If they make a decision tomorrow authorising travel with the ACT or NSW that will be made immediately.

"We want to give as much of a leg up to people wanting to travel for business or family reunion as quick as possible so we won't be delaying it.

"It could be tomorrow. I don't want to pre-empt it because we still want to look at all the data."

Mr Marshall noted NSW recorded four new infections on Monday, saying the numbers were "looking good".

"The ACT has had an extended period of very good results. With NSW it's been more in recent days," he said.

"It's a decision that the transition committee will give the government advice on but if they give us the advice tomorrow then we will be very quick to open that border but we've always said we don't want to it before it's safe to do so."

NSW has recorded a total number of 3981 cases.

The ACT had a total of 113 cases and - like SA - currently has no active cases.

Under current restrictions, anyone coming from NSW or the ACT must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

SA Police also conduct random checks on those self-isolating.

The state's transition committee as well as the National Cabinet will meet again on Friday.

FOUR NSW CASES BUT TESTING DROP SPARKS CONCERN

NSW health authorities have flagged concerns a drop in COVID-19 testing rates could spark a "resurgence" of outbreaks and urged residents to get tested to prevent another wave.

It comes as four new cases of coronavirus are recorded including three in hotel quarantine.

There was just one locally acquired infection connected to the Eastern Suburbs Legion Club in Waverley. This person has been in self-isolation while infectious.

The new cases come as health authorities raise concerns low testing numbers over the past fortnight could mean COVID-19 is spreading undetected in the community.

On Sunday, just 9,300 people were swabbed for the virus compared to 14,400 on Saturday.

NSW Health's Dr Christine Selvey said it is "vital" people with even mild symptoms self-isolate and get tested - particularly ahead of the school holidays.

"Testing numbers have dropped over the past two weeks which is a concern, particularly in areas like south western, western and south eastern Sydney," she said.

Dr Selvey warned against complacency, saying the virus is "still likely circulating among people in the community with mild symptoms.

"This means there is still the risk of outbreaks and a resurgence of outbreaks."

"It's absolutely vital everyone who does have the virus is tested and diagnosed in order to stop further spread to others... This is even more important with the upcoming school holidays when people will travel across the state."

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian also said the low number of cases should not be a cause for complacency.

"No matter how comfortable we may feel we can't let our guard down because at any time the virus can take hold."

"Until there is a vaccine, every day is a battle," she said.

LOWEST CASE RISE IN VIC SINCE JUNE

The number of daily coronavirus infections in Victoria continues to decline with 35 new cases and six new deaths recorded overnight.

The latest figures mark a slight decrease on Sunday's 41 cases but is the lowest rise in infections since June 26.

It comes as Premier Daniel Andrews is set to appear before the hotel quarantine inquiry, saying he will "provide context'' on how the program was formed.

Mr Andrews has been called to attend the inquiry, chaired by retired judge Jennifer Coate, on September 23.

"I established the Board of Inquiry into the Hotel Quarantine Program to find the answers that all Victorian are entitled to,'' Mr Andrews said.

"Given the program was established as a decision of National Cabinet I always anticipated that I would need to appear in order to provide the context for its beginnings.

"I can confirm I have been asked to appear on Wednesday 23 September and I look forward to assisting the Inquiry in its important work.''

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews will appear before the hotel quarantine inquiry. Picture: Getty Images
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews will appear before the hotel quarantine inquiry. Picture: Getty Images


It is also expected Victoria's most powerful bureaucrat, Department of Premier and Cabinet secretary Chris Eccles, will appear in the final week of the inquiry, along with Department of Health and Human Services secretary Kym Peake.

Counsel assisting the inquiry Tony Neal has previously said he wanted to focus on those who made the decisions, rather than those who implemented the decisions.

The inquiry will this week hear from senior officials involved in the emergency management response, as the board seeks to find out who decided to use private security guards instead of law enforcement or ADF to guard the quarantine hotels.

The thousands of mainly sub-contracted security guards, many of whom were poorly-paid, and some of who were poorly-trained and ill-disciplined, were involved in a number of infection control breaches, and 29 of them eventually caught COVID-19 from quarantine guests, and spread it to their family and friends.

This seeded Victoria's deadly second wave, which has so far killed more than 700 people.

 

Graham Ashton will appear before the board on Thursday.
Graham Ashton will appear before the board on Thursday.

 

Several witnesses have told the inquiry it was the "preference'' of Victoria Police- and specifically former Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton - to use private firms as the "first line of security'' at the hotels.

Mr Ashton will appear before the board on Thursday to answer questions about this, as will his replacement, current Chief Commissioner Shane Patton.

Emergency management Commissioner Andrew Crisp, whose was involved in discussions with the Australian Defence Force, will also appear, as Ms Coate seeks to determine why he ADF was not used to provide security, as it was in Queensland and New South Wales.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton and Deputy CHO Annaliese van Diemen will also appear this week.

Originally published as Andrews to appear before hotel quarantine inquiry



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