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Repat to open up beds for coronavirus patients | Visits to South Australian prisoners suspended amid coronavirus crisis

Repat to open up beds for coronavirus patients | Visits to South Australian prisoners suspended amid coronavirus crisis

Dozens new beds will be opened up at the old Repat hospital to help the state deal with the unprecedented coronavirus crisis. Follow our rolling coverage of the SA impact.

At least $6.5 million will be spent to create 90 beds in an upgrade former clinical wards at the Repat Health Precinct for the “dedicated care” of people with “mild” COVID-19 conditions.

Work will begin on Monday but Premier Steven Marshall said today that he hoped it won’t be needed.

He said the government was taking “swift and decisive action” to cushion expected devastating impacts from the virus.

“We are working around the clock to prepare our health system for the coming peak of the coronavirus to ensure South Australians have the best possible care,” he said.

“My Government is taking a strong and planned approach to create additional capacity within the health system.”

Health Minister Stephen Wade said the announcement came after plans for 188 beds at ECH College Grove, Walkerville and city-based Wakefield Hospitals.

CALL FOR SCHOOL TEMPERATURE CHECKS

State Labor has called for tighter restrictions in schools including daily temperature checks for all staff and students.

Pointing to Singapore, which has been identified by Steven Marshall as a leading example, Opposition leader Peter Malianuskas andLabor’s education spokeswoman Susan Close said more work needs to be done in SA schools.

The pair said Singapore has implemented daily temperature checks for all staff and students, with those who record a higher temperature immediately sent home.

Singapore has also adopted staggered breaks to reduce the number of children gathering together.

“If schools are going to remain open during the coronavirus pandemic, we must introduce strict new protections for students and staff,” Mr Malinauskas said.

“This will not only protect staff and students, but the wider community as well.”

Dr Close added “At a minimum, all schools should be undertaking daily temperature checks of all staff and students, and anyone with a temperature should be sent home immediately.”

On Friday Mr Marshall said the latest health advice was that school closures, at that stage, could do more harm than good.

He has not ruled out school closures in the future.

PRISON VISITS IN SA SUSPENDED

Personal visits to South Australian prisoners will be suspended on Monday as the Corrections Department works to keep the state’s prisons coronavirus free.

The temporary ban does not extend to professional visits to prisoners, such as from lawyers.

The suspension is among a raft of measures being rolled out across the state’s prisons including ordering of thermometers for all prisoners and changes to how searches are conducted.

A Corrections Department spokeswoman said the focus was on ensuring the virus did not enter the prison system.

“All prisoners across the state who report as unwell are medically assessed and screened,” she said.

“Staff and prisoners are vigilant and stringent, and are working together to prevent COVID-19 entering our prisons.

“Currently, no prisoner who has reported as unwell has met the criteria to be tested for COVID-19. ​

​”If a prisoner met the criteria for testing for COVID-19, the prisoner would be isolated and the department’s strict policies put into place.”

Earlier this month prison unrest erupted in Italy when all visits were banned to prisoners as the nation rushed to quarantine large segments of society.

AGED CARE WORKER TESTS POSITIVE

As the state’s confirmed tally of COVID-19 cases spiked by eight yesterday to 50, the St Louis Nursing Home, at Parkside, had barred all visitors and rostered on extra staff to keep the affected residents safely isolated in their rooms.

The worker at the 45-resident nursing home is believed to have contracted the virus while playing social basketball.

In a letter to families, director of care Sue Toner said the allied health worker, who had attended the centre on Monday “seeing some of our residents”, became unwell after a teammate who had played with her the previous Wednesday had tested positive to the virus.

She said no other residents showing any sickness signs.

“The nursing home is now in total lockdown,” the letter states.

An Unley High student is also among the latest confirmed cases as both Dr Spurrier and Premier Steven Marshall strongly defended SA Health’s handling of the case.

Read more developments from Friday.