SA boosts tracing virus victims' contacts

Up to 150 extra staff from SA's public service will work to trace people at risk of COVID-19.
Up to 150 extra staff from SA's public service will work to trace people at risk of COVID-19.

South Australia will significantly boost its capacity to track down people at risk of the coronavirus with up to 300 extra contact-tracing staff to be brought on.

Up to 150 staff will be reassigned from other public service roles to boost the contact tracing team immediately while another 150 will be ready for surge capacity if the caseload escalates.

Premier Steven Marshall has activated the Public Sector Mobilisation Policy to ensure the state's resources are best deployed during the pandemic.

"The additional contact tracing staff will further improve South Australia's world-class COVID-19 containment strategy," Mr Marshall said on Wednesday.

"By extensive testing, diligent contact tracing and the whole community working as one through social distancing, washing our hands, avoiding non-essential outings and following the latest health advice, we can slow the spread of this disease and save lives."

Health Minister Stephen Wade said South Australia's ability to test and trace the coronavirus spread was world-leading.

"SA Pathology have already conducted more than 25,000 tests and with up to 300 additional staff to assist with contact tracing means we are well-placed to slow the spread of the virus," he said.

"Our ability to test in significant numbers gives us the ability to lessen the spread of the disease through immediate contact tracing and isolation of patients.

"This also gives us a clearer picture of the spread of the virus through our community and the capacity to target any burgeoning hotspots immediately."

Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said the new recruits would join the existing team of around 140 experts, plus medical students who were already assisting with contact tracing.

"Contact tracing requires a high level of skill, and the assistance of additional public servants will be a welcome addition to the team," Associate Professor Spurrier said.

"However, confidentiality is a priority so we will ensure any new staff are fully trained and supervised, and that they adhere to the high levels of patient confidentiality required in the role."

Australian Associated Press