SYDNEY – South Australia’s drastic six-day lockdown of coronavirus was triggered by a “lie” to contact trams from a man who tested positive, and restrictions across the state are expected to be lifted much faster than first planned, authorities said Friday.
The shock message came just two days after the state government ordered people to stay home and shut down many businesses to combat what was considered a highly contagious coronavirus outbreak.
South American Prime Minister Steven Marshall told a news conference in Adelaide that a man at a pizza bar tied to the outbreak told contact tracers that he had only bought one pizza there when he had actually worked several shifts at the eatery with another worker who tested positive.
Authorities assumed the man, who was not named, had caught the virus during a very short exposure, leading them to believe the strain must be highly contagious.
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“To say that I am fumbling about the actions of this individual is an absolute understatement. This selfish actions of this individual has put our entire state in a very difficult situation.”
While the outbreak was still worrying, Marshall said the restrictions would be lifted early with a home order ending at midnight Saturday, when most businesses were also allowed to open.
Asked what punishment the individual might face, Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said there was “no punishment” for lying to trams under current law, although it would likely be revised.
“I think it’s obvious to say that this person’s actions have had a devastating impact on our society,” Stevens said. “The adversity is not lost on us.”
Stevens said a team reviewing the information the man had provided to the contracts was not happy with “the feeling they got from this.” Stevens would not be drawn to the man’s likely motivation for misleading contact trackers.
Home to around 1.8 million people, South Australia has registered 25 cases from the latest cluster linked to a returning traveler from the UK. The number of new cases in the state was still expected to increase over the next few days.
The country as a whole has been relatively successful in containing the virus with only about 95 cases currently active.
The state of Victoria on Friday reported its 21st day with zero cases, a well-deserved reward for a marathon lock of the country’s second largest city, Melbourne.