An Australian state’s decision to go into a strict lockdown hinged on one man’s lie to contact tracers about his second job in a pizza shop where another worker had tested positive, authorities have said.

The unnamed male claimed to have only picked up a pizza as a customer from the Woodville Pizza Bar in Adelaide, South Australia, concealing the fact that he worked there regularly and was a close contact of the store’s security guard.

As a result, health officials in the state of 1,767,000 people concluded he must have caught the virus during a brief exposure and that the strain must be highly contagious.

They were also forced to assume a large number of customers must have been infected through casual contact at the shop.

Visit our live blog for the latest updates Coronavirus news live

His lie unravelled upon further investigation by contact tracers, prompting South Australia’s premier, Steven Marshall, to call off the six-day lockdown three days early.

He told reporters on Friday: ‘To say I am fuming about the actions of this individual is an absolute understatement.

‘This selfish actions of this individual have put our whole state in a very difficult situation.

‘Their [the man’s] story didn’t add up. We pursued them. We now know that they lied.

‘Had this person been truthful to the contact tracing teams, we would not have gone into a six-day lockdown.’

The lockdown had begun on Wednesday after authorities identified 36 infected people, including the first cases to have been acquired within the state since April.

It meant residents had to stay at home with no exemption for outdoor exercise, while most businesses had to close.

The state’s police commissioner, Grant Stevens, said there would be no criminal action against the man because there is ‘no penalty associated with telling lies’.

‘We were operating on a premise that this person had simply gone to a pizza shop, [with] very short exposure and walked away having contracted the virus.

‘We now know they are a very close contact of another person who has been confirmed as being positive with Covid. It has changed the dynamic substantially.’

Only three new cases were recorded in the state on Friday, paving the way for a further easing of restrictions on Sunday.

Gyms will be allowed to reopen while hospitality venues and services including funerals and religious ceremonies will be allowed to recommence with attendance caps.

Despite the revelations, South Australia’s chief health officer, Prof Nicola Spurrier reiterated warnings that the Covid strain is ‘highly transmissible and has a short incubation period’.

Infectious disease experts from a number of Australian universities have cast doubt on the claim, suggesting the recent rapid transmission could be due to other factors and that it was unlikely that scientists could have confirmed the existence of a new strain in such a short period of time.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected]

For more stories like this, check our news page.

Source: Read Full Article