South Australia will lift its lockdown early and immediately allow outdoor exercise after fears authorities were dealing with an extremely infectious strain of the virus proved unfounded.
The state was plunged into one of the strictest lockdowns in the world on Thursday, after contact tracers believed a man became infected after buying a takeaway pizza. It turns out he lied to contact tracers, and had worked at the restaurant and been in close contact with another infected worker for several shifts.
Authorities were “operating on a premise that this person had simply gone to a pizza shop, very short exposure and walked away with having contracted the virus,” Police Commissioner Grant Stevens told reporters. “We now know they are a very close contact of another person who has confirmed as having been positive with Covid. It has changed the dynamic substantially.”
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Health officials said the situation remained dangerous and the cluster, currently at 25 infected people, was expected to grow over coming days. But thanks to the fast work of health officials, some 4,500 contacts or close contacts have been quarantined.
The original six-day lockdown that began Thursday will end at midnight Saturday. The ban on outdoor exercise and even dog-walking had made the measures among the strictest in the world.
The state of 1.7 million people, who are spread out over a landmass five times the size of the U.K., had largely eradicated community transmission of the virus after a nationwide lockdown earlier this year. The outbreak began after a cleaner at a hotel used to isolate returned overseas travelers was exposed to the virus.
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