October 1, 2023

Coronavirus facility selected in Adelaide CBD as hard border with NSW imposed

South Australian health authorities are continuing with their push to overhaul the state’s medi-hotel system,…

Coronavirus facility selected in Adelaide CBD as hard border with NSW imposed

South Australian health authorities are continuing with their push to overhaul the state’s medi-hotel system, revealing the site that will house a dedicated coronavirus facility.

Patients who test positive to COVID-19 will be transferred to Tom’s Court Hotel in the Adelaide CBD, to isolate them from people staying in the city’s other medi-hotels.

The move comes as four more people in hotel quarantine test positive for coronavirus, and hours after a hard border with almost all of New South Wales came into effect at midnight, in response to Sydney’s COVID-19 outbreaks.

From today, NSW travellers beyond a 100-kilometre buffer zone will be banned from entering SA, unless they are deemed essential, are returning South Australians or are permanently relocating.

Those returning or relocating will still have to isolate for 14 days.

The four latest cases are in hotel quarantine — a woman in her 20s, two women in their 30s and a child — all recently returned from overseas.

SA Health said it was the biggest daily increase in cases since November, when the state was sent into lockdown amid a coronavirus cluster that emerged from Peppers Waymouth Hotel in Adelaide.

Following the lockdown, the SA Government detailed an urgent eight-point plan to improve the state’s hotel quarantine system.

The first point was a commitment to transfer “all positive COVID cases” from medi-hotels to a dedicated health facility.

After initially considering the old Wakefield Hospital site, the SA Government today announced Tom’s Court Hotel on King William Street in Adelaide’s CBD as the preferred venue.

“Following a comprehensive selection process, involving the state’s preeminent public health officials and SAPOL, Tom’s Court Hotel has been chosen as our standalone dedicated COVID-19 positive medi-hotel,” Acting Health Minister Rob Lucas said.

Tom's Court Hotel in Adelaide's CBD.
Tom’s Court Hotel in Adelaide’s CBD will become SA’s dedicated COVID-19 facility from February.(Tom’s Court Hotel)

The Government said the 72-bed facility included facilities to accommodate families and “two purpose-built disability suites”.

“The central location also allows for a rapid transfer to the Royal Adelaide Hospital should it be required,” Mr Lucas said.

Last month, Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier revealed poor ventilation at Peppers may have triggered the Parafield cluster that sent SA into severe lockdown.

Mr Lucas said the new facility would open in February after the Government signed an agreement “for six months, with an option to extend”, and would be exclusively staffed by SA Health and SA Police.

“Some modifications to the heating ventilation and air conditioning system are required to enable the hotel to meet SA Health’s stringent requirements as a medi-hotel. Additional CCTV cameras also have to be installed,” he said.

“The modifications will be finalised as soon as possible and are expected to be completed to enable the facility to start from a target date of the first week in February.

“In the meantime, the two floors at the Pullman Hotel will remain as the dedicated COVID-19 facility, as this has proven to be a very successful interim model.”

More than 8,000 people have passed through Adelaide’s medi-hotels since the start of the pandemic — many of them returning international travellers.

There are currently 11 active coronavirus cases in the state, all of them acquired overseas.

“To make the medi-hotel system as safe as possible, we have mandated routine testing of staff, implemented symptom checking and training reviews at the start of each shift, rolled-out refresher training on infection control measures and improved the security model,” Mr Lucas said.

Broken Hill relieved at exemption

Despite the hard border, a 100-kilometre buffer zone will apply for people living in border communities, including Broken Hill and Wentworth.

A mid-shot of a lady sitting in a chair.
Broken Hill Mayor Darriea Turley was happy about the “border bubble”.(ABC News)

People transiting to SA via NSW will also have an exemption, provided they do not stop in NSW on the way.

Broken Hill Mayor Darriea Turley called the decision to grant the outback city an exemption “a great relief” for locals.

“Hearing that our message about having a border bubble has worked, I am very relieved and I’m sure that our members of the Broken Hill community — and wider area — are as well,” she said.

“Broken Hill is 50 kilometres to the South Australian border, and 300 kilometres to Sydney … it relies heavily on Adelaide for referrals for medical. It’s where most of our kids go to school, it’s where our families live, and it’s where people do business.

“I know people are buzzing on Facebook that we have a bubble.”