SA Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier apologises for wrongly suggesting man breached coronavirus quarantine – ABC News

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South Australia’s Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier has apologised for wrongly suggesting yesterday that a man breached coronavirus quarantine and put the state at risk.

The man in his 30s has been exposed to major public backlash over the past 24 hours.

But authorities conceded at a press conference this afternoon that he had done nothing wrong.

Professor Spurrier, who did not attend the press conference, apologised to the man in a statement this evening.

She clarified that the man had no obligation to remain in quarantine when he went shopping and that no-one had told him he had to do so.

“[As] a casual contact, this individual was never directed to quarantine by SA Health or SAPOL and therefore has done nothing wrong,” Professor Spurrier said.

“He has not breached quarantine and he has been fully cooperative with our contact tracing efforts which are aimed at stopping the spread of the virus any further.

False quarantine breach claim lasted 24 hours

Speaking at a press conference Sunday afternoon, Professor Spurrier had said the man’s behaviour had posed a serious risk to the people of South Australia and she was “disappointed”.

“If you’re in quarantine and you have an initial test that’s negative, you have to stay in quarantine. It doesn’t mean you can come out of quarantine. You have to do the full 14 days.”

A woman with blonde hair speaks in front of microphones
SA Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Emily Kirkpatrick clarified on Monday afternoon that the man had not breached quarantine requirements.(ABC News)

On Monday morning, Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Emily Kirkpatrick repeated the claim.

She said that although the man “was under the impression he was doing the right thing … if you have that negative day one test, it doesn’t mean you can go out and about in the community”.

At a press conference Monday afternoon, Dr Kirkpatrick clarified that was not the case.

The ABC has asked SA Health whether there had been a breakdown in communication about the COVID-19 direction that applied to the man.

Epidemiologist slams ‘blame and shame’ on COVID-19

Burnet Institute epidemiologist Mike Toole said South Australian health authorities had made “a series of communication errors” in relation to the state’s COVID-19 response.

Chief among them, he argued, was the public description of what people infected with the virus had done before being diagnosed, as well as information that could potentially identify those people.

He said the man who went shopping, as well as another man who worked at the Woodville Pizza Bar, had been “blamed and shamed” and that this was likely to discourage others from giving full accounts of their actions to contact tracers.

“It can affect contact tracing … there may be some reluctance to talk to contact tracers.

“There may even be reluctance to get [tested].”

A police car sits outside of the Woodville Pizza Bar in Adelaide
Police launched a taskforce to investigate the Woodville Pizza Bar and help contact tracers.(ABC News: Brant Cumming)

Professor Toole said the Government needed to tell the public where people infectious with COVID-19 had been, and when, but that there was no need to describe those people’s activities or provide information that could identify them.

Premier Steven Marshall had attributed the Government’s decision to send SA into a brief lockdown earlier this month to alleged misinformation provided by the pizza bar worker.

He later said the lockdown was also based on SA Health modelling that indicated the potential for a major increase in cases.

SA Health confirmed pizza bar worker, like other people in hotel quarantine, was being given mental health support.

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