New virus measures for SA nursing homes

Premier Steven Marshall hopes new restrictions will keep SA aged care facilities fatality-free.
Premier Steven Marshall hopes new restrictions will keep SA aged care facilities fatality-free.

South Australia has imposed tighter restrictions across the aged care sector to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak among vulnerable residents.

From August 27, carers in nursing homes will not be allowed to work at more than one facility and all staff, including doctors and nurses, will be required to wear masks when coming into close contact with residents.

Face shields and gloves will also be required in some circumstances.

Premier Steven Marshall says it's hoped the move will keep intact the state's unblemished record in aged care during the global pandemic.

"We don't do these things lightly. We don't put additional restrictions in place without very good reason and we do have very good reason," Mr Marshall said.

"We're very proud that we haven't had infection or fatality in our residential aged care facilities and our goal is to keep it that way."

Health Minister Stephen Wade said the government wanted to minimise the disruption to facilities and workers and hoped arrangements could be put in place to maintain services and retain jobs.

He said the two-week phase-in period would give the industry time to allow for workers to be paired up, ensuring all shifts were covered and all workers employed.

The minister said introducing the new rules would be challenging for the industry, but it had been consulted in the development of the directions.

"One thing that is completely distinctive about the South Australian public health team is that we are swift and we are decisive," Mr Wade said.

"We aren't waiting for an infection to get a foothold in one of our residential aged care facilities.

"We're at the front door trying to stop it getting in in the first place."

The action on nursing homes comes after a range of other new measures were rolled out this week, including the introduction of COVID-19 marshals in pubs, restaurants and other venues to ensure that social distancing, hygiene and other rules were being enforced.

Venues with 200 or more patrons will need to appoint a dedicated person to do that job while smaller venues will be allowed to have a staff member perform the work in conjunction with their other duties.

SA communities close to the state's border with Victoria have also been hit by tightened restrictions amid growing concerns over the coronavirus spike in Melbourne and some of that state's regional centres.

From August 21, people who live close to the border who come and go for school, work, or for shopping will no longer be allowed into South Australia unless they can comply with essential traveller requirements.

The change is likely to prevent most trips for those who currently have permission to regularly leave and enter SA.

No new virus infections were reported in South Australia on Thursday, with the total number of cases diagnosed since the start of the pandemic remaining at 459.

Only six cases are still considered active.

Australian Associated Press