Coronavirus

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (14:33): My question is to the Premier. Can the Premier update the house on the South Australian government's response to COVID-19?

The Hon. S.S. MARSHALL (Dunstan—Premier) (14:33): I thank the member for Hammond for his question. Our primary responsibility, as the government of South Australia, is to protect the health, safety and welfare of all South Australians. We take this responsibility very, very seriously. We also have responsibilities with regard to the economy and making sure that we can get through this disease, out the other side, and have our recovery the strongest in the entire country, the strongest in the entire world. These are our two principal objectives.

In terms of the health objective, can I say that right from the very outbreak of this coronavirus, which we learnt about in January, SA Health sprang into action. We are very well served in South Australia by the Chief Public Health Officer, Associate Professor Dr Nicola Spurrier. She leads a team, along with the Communicable Disease Control Branch led by Dr Louise Flood, who have been doing an outstanding job in South Australia to do everything they can to understand and to control the spread of this virus. We have, in terms of the health side, two specific objectives: first, to reduce the peak and push it out as far as we possibly can; and, secondly, to massively increase our health capability and response. They are the two things we are doing from a health perspective.

To date, the most recent statistics show that we have 134 COVID-19 positive tests in South Australia. We have no deaths recorded in South Australia. In fact, to this point in time, we have no hospitalisations due to treatment of this disease. We note that in the early stages of this disease people who were diagnosed with this were isolated within the hospitals. Now many of them are increasingly isolated within their homes. That makes sense because we have to keep those beds available in the hospital for the peak when it comes. As I said, our primary focus is on doing everything we can to reduce that peak and push it out into the future as much as we possibly can.

One of the things that has been absolutely fundamental and critical to our strong plan to tackle the coronavirus is the work of SA Pathology. I was meeting again this morning with the clinical lead, Dr Tom Dodd. They have done an outstanding job, first of all to get the pathology services to test for the coronavirus here in South Australia and then the incredibly quick way they set up the standalone, dedicated COVID-19 rapid testing and assessment clinics. The first we opened probably less than two weeks ago at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. We now have more than a dozen statewide, including many in country SA.

We led the nation with the first drive-through COVID-19 testing station down at the Repat hospital. The success of this program has now been copied right around the country. This morning I was at the Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre for the opening of the second of these drive-through centres. We have also moved to some telemedicine investments at the Royal Adelaide Hospital for those people who are living with cystic fibrosis so they do not need to come into the Royal Adelaide Hospital as we get closer and closer to that peak. They now have an investment in spirometers that they can activate at home and the data gets sent through to the clinician. This is one of the advantages of using technology. I can see that we are going to have a much, much higher use of this in the future.

There is so much to talk about, but I do want to switch to talk about economic stimulus as well. Many, many businesses are doing it extraordinarily hard. We have had a first state stimulus package, two federal stimulus packages, and there will be further stimulus at the state level. This is something we take very seriously. We need to support these businesses and the employees who have lost their jobs, through no fault of their own, due to the coronavirus. We need to help people get across this bridge to the other side. We will get there. Our goal is to make sure that we can have that recovery as strong as possible here in our state.