Just days after the election of South Australia’s new Labor Government, Premier Malinauskas has wasted no time in declaring the need for more power.
Premier Peter Malinauskas has announced sweeping changes to how his government will manage Covid, as new modelling shows case numbers will hit up 10,000 a day next month.
Mr Malinauskas will immediately abolish the Covid-ready committee and replace it with Emergency Management Council, which will be a sub-committee of Cabinet.
“I don’t want to chair a meeting that doesn’t have the power to make decisions. Hence that policy change.”
Mr Malinauskas said an urgent plan to boost hospital capacity would be launched amid fears daily case numbers could exceed those seen in January with similar levels of hospitalisations.
The University of Adelaide modelling shows case numbers could hit up to 10,000 a day in early April at the peak of this wave, with adult hospitalisations of more than 200.
Mr Malinauskas said he was stunned to learn on Monday that all non-urgent elective surgery in public hospitals had been banned by the Marshall Government a day before the state election.
“If you want to know why we have different isolation requirements in SA, that has been an informing factor,” he said.
“Make no mistake, our hospital system is under strain.
“Things are so bad that the elective surgeries that were put back on have been cancelled again.
“(And) case numbers are set to escalate in a significant way.
“I have directed SA Health to rapidly prepare a plan for urgent additional hospital preparedness for a rise in Covid cases.”
In other changes:
■ Crown lawyers will develop new laws to replace the Emergency Management Act, which he wants to end by June 30 at the latest;
■ A new campaign will be launched to encourage South Australians to get their booster dose after rates remained stagnant for the past few weeks at 69 per cent; and
■ Chris Picton was formally announced as health minister under the new Labor government, to be sworn in on Thursday.
Mr Malinauskas has asked SA Health to expedite national guidelines, particularly for isolation and quarantine, as he said there would be more announcements to come on Friday regarding restrictions.
“National consistency should be something we all gravitate towards,” he said.
Chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier announced four people with Covid had died overnight – a man in his 50s, a man in his 60s and a man and woman in their 80s.
There were 3686 new cases announced on Tuesday, with 165 in hospital, 11 in ICU and two people ventilated.
“Those are the figures were are looking at,” she said.
“Our hospitals are under a lot of pressure and we need to make sure we can deal with those admissions.”
Professor Spurrier said she was pleased to share the modelling data publicly today.
“If people can understand what’s going on, then they can understand why we’ve got certain restrictions in place.”
She said the new Omicron variant, which now makes up 70 per cent of cases in SA, was more transmissible, but “at this point in time there’s no evidence that it’s more severe.”
She said health officials would be keeping a close eye on the new strain before recommending the removal of any quarantine restrictions.
“When you’re making those kinds of decisions, it’s better not to do it when the wave is going up … it’s better to do it when the wave is going down.”