COVID-19

4 deaths and 3,669 COVID-19 cases in 24 hours with SA announcing back to school delay

Premier Steven Marshall addressed the South Australian public this afternoon with the latest information on the evolving COVID-19 situation in SA.

Premier Steven Marshall addressed the South Australian public from isolation this afternoon with the latest information on the evolving COVID-19 situation in SA.

He began by stating that in the past 24 hours, 3,669 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in SA with hospitalisations at 225, with those in ICU at 26, with seven people on ventilators.

There are currently 32,516 active cases in South Australia.

Sadly, SA Health confirmed two men in their 80s and two women in their 70s, who tested positive for COVID-19, have passed away.

A total of 20,058 COVID-19 tests were taken yesterday, and 21,581 further vaccinations have been performed.

Marshall announced that to help keep our kids, teachers and state safe, a staged return to school has been recommended by key health and education experts.

The hybrid, staged return to school plan is being implemented to ensure kids miss the fewest face to face learning days as possible, while also ensuring the state keeps on top of the global omicron outbreak.

Under the plan, students in key year levels (Pre-school, Reception, One, Seven, Eight and 12) will head back to face-to-face learning at school on Wednesday February 2.

Other year levels will begin their school year learning from home from Wednesday 2 February and will be back in the classroom on Monday 14 February.

January 31 and February 1 will be additional preparation days for teachers to get briefed and ready for online teaching.

Our most vulnerable students, as well as those children of essential workers, no matter their school grade, will be able to return to school from January 31 for two days of supervision and then learning from February 2.

Premier Steven Marshall said that while the first term back in 2022 will look a lot different to what parents and students are used to, the government has put students first in this back to school plan.

“This plan is all about balancing the learning needs of our kids, while also ensure they stay safe,” Premier Marshall said.

“Because of the restrictions we put in place on Boxing Day, we have got on top of this outbreak, made sure our hospitals have not been over run and now – we announce that our key year levels will go back to school in week one.

“While we understand there will be disruptions to the start of 2022 and it’s going to be challenging for a lot of families, we have put our kids first with this schools plan – they learn better face to face and that is what we’ve worked hard to achieve.

“This back to school plan is fully supported by the health and education experts in our State, and I’m certain it is the right way to go.”

Parents will be contacted by their schools directly over the coming week with all of the information they will need ahead of February 2.

The Department of Education website will also soon have all of the answers to questions parents, teachers and the wider public will have about the start of the 2022 school year.

Separate advice for kindergarten and pre-schoolers will also be released tomorrow.

National cabinet is also set to make a decision on rapid antigen testing within the school environment following next weeks meeting.

“We will have a big advantage with a staggered start, we do not intend on closing schools,” Premier Marshall said.

“We’ve been very careful to ensure vaccinations are not mandated for 5-11 year olds just as it isn’t for 12-17 year olds”.

“We are likely to announce further support for businesses as we know many people have made sacrifices to keep SA safe”, he said.

“Our goal is to keep everybody safe and certainly that is what we are working towards at the moment”.

This latest updates come as South Australians are today given a new way to access Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) if they are deemed to be close contacts.

A home testing collection supersite has been set up in Adelaide’s south parklands and has been operational from 7am this morning, with online bookings ready to be made right now.

Another 12 sites around metro and regional South Australia will be operational in the next week, with the Government to update South Australians on those locations in the coming days.

The new process will enable two free RATs to be available for collection by people who register themselves online as close contacts.

Marshall also commented on the ability for close contacts to work in the food chain supply industry.

He said SA has moved well in front of the national cabinet putting directions in last night where close contacts can return to work in modified way to manage risks.

He said this is to ensure that the state does not have skill shortages as is the case interstate. Workers in this industry can temporarily leave their isolation only to go to work, if they have returned a negative test on day 1 and are asymptomatic.

The Prime Minister Scott Morrison also addressed the public following the national cabinet meeting today.

He said the country’s objective is not to stop people from getting the virus. The aim is to ensure we can keep our hospitals under the least pressure.

He said as we have now discovered the Omicron variant is very transmissible but less sever, this has enabled us to relax restrictions in the workforce.

He said it is important to note that reinfection with the omicron variant can occur, so it is irresponsible to try and contract the virus to get it over.

In addition to the free RATs that are became available to close contacts in SA, there was a national agreement for free concessional access to RATs.

Commencing on January 24, 10 free tests will be provided in total over 3 months with a maximum of 5 a month.

This works by concession card holders going to the pharmacy, presenting the relevant concession card and then being provide with the tests.

Morrison also commented on an expansion on the removal of isolation for a range of close contacts. He said there has been an extension to those who don’t need to isolate and can go straight back to work after returning a negative test on day one.

The immediate extension of that is to all transport and freight and logistic sectors, not just those in the food chain sector. He said it also includes those who work at service stations all health welfare, support and emergency services (including law enforcements), energy resources, and water and waste management sectors.

It also includes those in the food and beverage industry and other critical good suppliers in food distribution, telecoms and data, broadcasting and media.

Important things to note:

You may not always receive a call, SMS or email from SA Health.

You must follow the relevant health advice even if you have not been contacted.

If you have any COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how mild, please seek testing as soon as possible.

For more information on health advice and requirements for households, visit www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/COVIDcontacttracing.

Find your nearest testing site at www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/COVIDtesting

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