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Drive-through testing sites will be scrapped and free RATs offered to all South Australians as the state reaches the peak of its latest Covid wave.
Chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said while it was too early to definitively say SA had hit its Covid peak, cases were beginning to plateau.
SA recorded 9000 Covid cases in the week from November 18 to 25, with 140 people hospitalized and 11 of those in ICU.
Of those hospitalised, 97 people had received three or more vaccine doses, 35 people were either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated and eight had an unknown vaccination status.
There were eight COVID-19 deaths notified in the past week, with ages ranging from their 40s to 90s.
Up to 500,000 RAT kits will be available at existing RAT collection points for people to collect free-of-charge until the end of the year, with concession or close contact eligibility criteria scrapped.
Prof Spurrier said RATs would also be distributed to emergency responders in the Riverland and community centers across the state.
The full list of collection points will be available on the SA Health website in coming days.
The state’s drive-through PCR testing sites will be wound down over the coming months, with all expected to be closed by January 8 – after which, PCR tests will no longer be free without a GP referral.
“I love those drive-through sites and will feel sad when we shut the last one,” Prof Spurrier said.
“But in another sense, it’s a celebration that we’ve got to this stage in the pandemic where we don’t need that pandemic response.”
The health chief said those eligible for antivirals, such as people with chronic conditions or the elderly, should see their GP and seek a pathology form in advance to access a PCR test if symptoms arise.
Prof Spurrier also confirmed mandatory reporting of Covid test results was no longer required, but “strongly encouraged”.
“If we don’t have that as a community, it is very difficult for me to give you any predictions about the pandemic,” she said.
The latest Covid figure represents a 3 per cent increase in cases, down from a 15 per cent increase the week prior and 70 per cent increase before that.
“We are getting towards the peak. Until we see those case numbers come down I can’t officially tell you we’re at the peak, but we’re certainly at that top end plateau,” Prof Spurrier said.
“We are very hopeful that we will be on the other side of that wave well before Christmas, so we can all enjoy a healthy Christmas.”
The health chief said she wasn’t concerned the upcoming Adelaide 500, which is expected to draw crowds in the tens of thousands, would spark a rise in cases.
NOVEMBER 18 UPDATE
More than 8300 new cases of Covid were reported in the week from November 11 to 18 – a rise of almost 1500 cases over the previous seven days.
Chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier had earlier in the week ruled out the return of restrictions but urged a return to mask wearing, including on public transport.
Prof Spurrier had urged people to “think about wearing masks” in crowded or indoor spaces and on public transport over the next few weeks, particularly during Black Friday sales.
While cases are on the rise currently, numbers are predicted to ease heading into Christmas.
In South Australia, there have been 809,347 Covid cases since the start of the pandemic and a total of 1060 Covid deaths.
Originally published as SA’s chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier gives Covid cases update