COVID-19 'weak positive' result in SA traveller to NSW sends five close contacts into quarantine

© Provided by ABC Health

SA Health is investigating a potential coronavirus case after a young man who recently travelled from South Australia to New South Wales returned a “very weakly positive” result.

Health authorities have carried out contact tracing and have sent five close contacts into quarantine as they await further test results from NSW.

SA Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said the man left South Australia on Thursday, and that SA authorities were informed last Friday about the potential case after the man had taken a COVID-19 test in NSW.

“It was very weakly positive. When we do our PCR testing, we look at two different parts of the gene and there was only one part of that positive, so it was a very weak positive,” Professor Spurrier said.

“That young person went on to have two subsequent swabs which were negative.

“The way things are looking, it probably will be a false positive, but I don’t want to jump the gun.”

Authorities are investigating any “overlap” in the man’s movements with six interstate truck drivers who recently tested positive, but have said it “doesn’t look” as if he had attended any of the exposure sites linked to those cases, which included two hotels.

The man has family in both South Australia and New South Wales, and Professor Spurrier said it was “up to the laboratory in New South Wales to make a call on” his health status.

“They have taken blood to look at serology. What that means is that we look for the antibody response to COVID, and that came back as indeterminate, so at the moment the New South Wales team are looking to decide whether to call this a false positive or a true positive,” she said.

“That makes it a little bit difficult for us in South Australia, but because we want to be really precautionary we have followed up with this young person’s close contacts and … we do have five close contacts in quarantine at the moment.

“They are all negative. There’s not been a positive test at all. I’m hoping that I have some more results and further information from New South Wales this afternoon.”

Professor Spurrier said “more extensive contact tracing” had been conducted, but that she would not reveal potential public exposure sites unless a positive result was confirmed.

“As everybody knows, we’ve had truck drivers who have been positive in our state,” she said.

“My information at the moment is that this person was in Port Augusta and also down in Adelaide and there could have been some overlap with those truck drivers.”

SA authorities today announced an easing of social distancing measures.

South Australians will be able to stand up and drink in beer gardens and other outdoor venues from Thursday, with the state’s authorities also set to ease COVID-19 testing requirements for travellers from south-east Queensland.

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