SYDNEY (Reuters) – South Australia’s drastic six-day lockdown was triggered by a “lie” to contact tracers from a single individual and restrictions across the state would now be lifted much sooner than first planned, authorities said on Friday.
The shock announcement came just two days after the state government ordered people to stay at home and shut many businesses to combat what was considered a highly contagious outbreak of coronavirus.
South Australia state Premier Steven Marshall told a media conference that one man at a pizza bar tied to the outbreak had lied to contact tracers, claiming he had only bought a pizza there when he was actually working at the shop.
Authorities had thought he had caught the virus during a very short exposure, when in fact he had been working several shifts with another positive case.
Because of the lie, authorities believed the strain of virus was highly contagious, taking 24 hours or less for a newly infected person to become infectious to others.
“To say I am fuming about the actions of this individual is an absolute understatement,” Marshall told stunned reporters. “This selfish actions of this individual have put our whole state in a very difficult situation.”
While the outbreak was still worrying, Marshall said restrictions would be lifted early with the stay-at-home order ending at midnight on Saturday when most businesses would also be allowed to open.
The state, home to about 1.8 million people, has recorded 25 cases from the latest cluster, linked to a returned traveller from the UK.
The number of new cases were still expected to rise over the next few days, but the outbreak was not as alarming as first feared.
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