SA expands home quarantine trial

Premier Steven Marshall has announced SA's home quarantine trial has been expanded.
Premier Steven Marshall has announced SA's home quarantine trial has been expanded.

South Australia has expanded its COVID-19 home quarantine trial to selected Australians returning from overseas, boosting chances of the technology being rolled out across the country.

The international traveller trial involves about 90 Australian Defence Force personnel who are returning this week from lower-risk countries.

The system uses a new app to electronically monitor those in isolation, employing facial recognition and location technology along with in-person checks.

All participants were pre-selected and had to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and have a suitable self-contained home with no shared corridors, lifts or other facilities.

With a police escort, they travel in their own vehicle from the Edinburgh RAAF Base to their accommodation, where they will stay for the 14-day quarantine period.

Participants need to provide a negative test result 72 hours before their flight departs for Australia, another on arrival and then further tests on days three, five, seven, nine and 13.

They will be subject to random location check-ins using live facial verification three times a day, while police will conduct at least one random physical compliance check each night.

The trial comes after a similar exercise using people returning to SA from interstate.

"The innovative home quarantine SA app has received great feedback from users, with about 50 people involved in the domestic trial so far," Premier Steven Marshall said.

"Eighteen of those people have successfully completed the trial so far, with the remainder expected to complete their quarantine in coming days.

"What we learn from the domestic and international trials could help the entire nation to safely repatriate more Australians coming home from overseas."

At the same time, the premier said South Australia was not about to throw open its borders given the continued threat from virus outbreaks in NSW and Victoria.

He also defended SA's tough stance on granting exemptions for people wanting to come into SA from those states, including returning locals.

SA Health is currently working through more than 7000 applications for exemptions, with a number of people expressing concern over the long delays in making decisions.

Mr Marshall said he understood the frustrations with the exemption system but that authorities were trying to work through the issues.

But he said not everyone would be allowed in.

"The concept that we're going to throw open the border to seven and a half thousand people wanting to come back into South Australia is simply not going to happen," the premier said.

"Obviously it's a very tough situation for those people that are stranded interstate.

"We want to get them back as quickly as possible but we've got to do it as safely as possible."

Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Doctor Emily Kirkpatrick said as well as the security features, the home quarantine app would provide essential support and resources for those taking part.

"Daily symptom checking and access to support and resources will help us look after the health and wellbeing of the participants during the trial," she said.

The app also includes testing reminders and expected quarantine completion dates, with users receiving an end-of-quarantine certificate.

SA reported no new virus infections on Wednesday.

The state has 10 active infections, all among people who contracted the virus overseas or interstate.

Australian Associated Press