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A testing blitz and closed borders: How South Australia became "the safest place in the world".

— With AAP.

Despite having some of the most relaxed social distancing restrictions in the country, South Australia has reached seven days without recording a new case of COVID-19.

The incredible milestone, which was announced on Wednesday, comes as the state wraps up a two-week “testing blitz”, which saw more than 15,000 South Australians tested for the coronavirus.

Speaking to the media, Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier declared the week a “milestone” for the state.

Mamamia’s The Quicky host Claire Murphy answers your common questions about COVID-19. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia

“This is a landmark for us, we have gone a whole week now without any cases of COVID-19 in South Australia,” Dr Spurrier said.

“That puts us in a very, very strong position, particularly with the high rates of testing,” she added.

On Wednesday, South Australia Health said 96 per cent of confirmed coronavirus cases within the state have recovered.

In total, the state has had 438 confirmed cases, and there are only 14 cases currently active, including two men who are hospitalised.

The state also welcomed 699 Australians repatriated from India last week, who are currently in quarantine at two Adelaide hotels. At the time of reporting, there are still no cases among those quarantined Australians.

Speaking to the media, Dr Spurrier referred to South Australia as “the safest place in the world”.

“I think many people are surprised in Australia at how well we have done. Really, this is the safest place to be in the world, perhaps other than New Zealand,” she said.

“It’s taken a lot of work and it’s meant that everybody has had to play their part and I absolutely understand how difficult the restrictions have been,” she added.

“But it has paid off.”

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Border control and increased testing.

Throughout the pandemic, South Australia’s lockdown measures have been more relaxed compared to its eastern counterparts.

Unlike measures in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, travel is allowed for any reason in South Australia, activities like golf and tennis have been able to continue, and the state’s social distancing measures only limit gatherings to no more than 10 people. (Despite this, unnecessary socialising is discouraged in SA).

South Australian schools, early childhood services and preschools are also open for term two, although parents can opt to keep their children at home.

Despite having more relaxed measures, South Australia has managed to flatten – if not crush – the curve.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall attributed the state’s success to two factors – border control and increased testing.

In late March, South Australia became one of the first states in the country to shut its borders to interstate travellers.

From March 24, any visitors to the state who weren’t deemed “essential travellers” were forced to quarantine for two weeks on arrival or face hefty fines.

In comparison, Queensland and Western Australian didn’t close their borders until the first week of April. On the other hand, New South Wales and Victoria have not shut their borders at all.

As a result, South Australia’s curve began to well and truly flatten from April 1.

“One of the hallmarks of our response in South Australia has been our strong border restrictions,” Marshall said, according to 7 News.

“Early border control was effective in restricting the number of cases.”

South Australia has also been praised for its highly effective testing regime.

The state, which was reportedly the first in the world to introduce drive-through testing facilities, has conducted more than 55,000 tests.

“We have had, unequivocally, the highest level of testing in Australia and amongst the highest level of testing, per capita, anywhere in the world,” Premier Steven Marshall said.

In the past fortnight, the state introduced a “testing blitz”, which allowed anyone with cold and flu symptoms to be testing for COVID-19.

As the “blitz” wrapped up on Thursday, the state now plans to extend the testing regime to healthcare workers and aged care workers.

Listen to Mamamia’s daily news podcast, The Quicky, below. Post continues after podcast.

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In another new South Australian effort, the state has introduced new measures for South Australians who are positive with COVID-19, but well enough to self isolate at home.

As part of a new Remote Monitoring Service, patients will receive phone calls daily from a dedicated team of GPS and nurses.

The service, which involves 40 specialist GPs and a roster of nurses, will also be available to the Australians repatriated from India who are currently quarantining in Adelaide.

Feature Image: Getty. 

For more on COVID-19:

To protect yourself and the community from COVID-19, remain in your home unless strictly necessary, keep at least 1.5 metres away from other people, regularly wash your hands and avoid touching your face.

If you are sick and believe you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your GP ahead of time to book an appointment. Or call the national Coronavirus Health Information Line for advice on 1800 020 080. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 000. 

To keep up to date with the latest information, please visit the Department of Health website.


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