SA Health response - COVID-19

A range of measures are being implemented on the advice of our medical and public health experts, to protect the health and wellbeing of all South Australians and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community.

The South Australian response is tailored to our local conditions and may change over time as the situation in our state changes.

South Australian emergency management directions and restrictions

Visit our response and restrictions page for information on the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration and links to the individual directions on the SA Government COVID-19 website.

Command Centre

A multi-agency Command Centre was launched within SA Health headquarters as part of a whole-of-government response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Command Centre allows agencies to work together to enable a comprehensive state-wide response and includes representatives from key State Government agencies.

Integrated Inpatient Strategy

The SA Health Integrated Inpatient Strategy outlines how public, private and community health sectors would work together to manage a ‘worst case scenario’ outbreak.
The likelihood of activating this plan based on the state’s current situation is low, but it ensures South Australia is ready to manage any escalation.

Pandemic Arrangement

As outlined in the South Australian Emergency Management Act 2004, SA Health is the Hazard Leader for human disease and control agency for human epidemics, food and waterborne diseases.

For more information about the Viral Respiratory Disease Pandemic Response Plan (including COVID-19, influenza, SARS & MERS) visit the Pandemic Arrangement page.


Active Surveillance Testing

COVID-19 testing in South Australia is being expanded to test specific groups of people who either work with vulnerable populations, or who may have less access to testing clinics. Increasing testing will help us protect the community by identifying new cases quickly and preventing potential outbreaks.

The SA Health COVID-19 Active Surveillance Testing Operational Framework (PDF 445KB) details South Australia’s proposed future active surveillance testing activities. The Framework outlines three key types of active surveillance testing components which meet the needs of the Australian National Disease Surveillance Plan for COVID-19, including testing of occupational groups, household contacts of confirmed cases, and random samples.

Work is underway with occupational groups to determine the best ways to implement more testing.

COVID-19 Clinics and Testing Centres

Dedicated COVID-19 Clinics and Testing Centres have been established in South Australia to identify and treat COVID-19 patients. These clinics take pressure of our Emergency Departments and help to minimise the spread of infection.

Anyone in South Australia who has symptoms of COVID-19, even if symptoms are mild, can get tested

Wastewater testing

SA Health has joined forces with SA Water to locate any possible COVID-19 cases in the community by analysing wastewater samples. Monitoring wastewater will identify the presence of non-infectious genetic material (viral RNA) to build a better understanding of virus transmission in South Australian communities.

Sampling is occurring at wastewater treatment plants in Bolivar, Christies Beach, Glenelg, Port Lincoln, Mount Gambier and Angaston.

For more information see the Wastewater surveillance for COVID-19 in South Australia fact sheet (PDF 110KB).

Rapid testing for urgent cases

Rapid testing capability has been rolled out to provide a COVID-19 diagnosis in less than 60 minutes in cases where clinicians deem required for an urgent diagnosis for patients who are exhibiting extreme to severe symptoms (i.e. in emergency situations).

This will enable those clinicians in our metropolitan and ten regional hospitals to make quick decisions around the treatment and care of patients deemed clinically urgent.

This type of testing is not currently available within COVID-19 testing clinics.

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Dedicated COVID-19 support

SA COVID-19 Information Line

The SA COVID-19 Information Line provides local information on COVID-19 to South Australians. It is available 9.00 am to 5.00 pm, seven days a week on 1800 253 787.

COVID-19 Mental Health Support

SA Health has established a network of telephone and online services to provide the South Australian community with mental health support during the COVID-19 pandemic. For information see the COVID-19 Mental Health Support page.


Nursing and midwifery

SA Health has fast-tracked the recruitment of nurses and midwives with a range of skills, including intensive care, home care and aged care.

It is also working with education partners in the rapid upskilling of nurses in areas of need, including ICU-level care.

Extra front line responders

An additional 97 paramedics have been recruited into the South Australian Ambulance Service to support the frontline response to COVID-19.

This includes 36 paramedic interns and 20 patient transport officers, to complement a recent intake of 23 graduates. Another 18 interns have recently begun their on the road supervision and an additional 11 Triple Zero (000) call takers were also recently recruited.

Contact tracing team

The Communicable Disease Control Branch’s contact tracing team will be boosted by up to 300 additional staff. The new recruits joined an existing team of 140 experts, as well as medical students who are already assisting with contact tracing.

Additional support for COVID-19 patients at home

South Australians who test positive for COVID-19 will receive daily support throughout self-isolation from two new dedicated teams of GPs and nurses.

The COVID-19 GP Assessment Team and nurse-led SA Health Remote Monitoring Service will contact all patients who are well enough to self-isolate at home. This will ensure patients are connected to a healthcare professional so further treatment and support can be provided if symptoms worsen.

Dedicated SA Pathology team to protect aged care residents

A dedicated SA Pathology team has been assembled to respond to a COVID-19 outbreak in aged care and other residential facilities to provide greater protection for our most vulnerable citizens.

The team of domiciliary nurses and phlebotomists have the capacity to immediately test everyone in a facility if an outbreak occurs, helping to quickly identify cases, limit the spread and protect both vulnerable residents and staff.

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Personal protective equipment

Personal Protective Equipment Matrix

The COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment Assessment Matrix (PDF 196KB) has been developed for use in the care of hospital patients with a suspected and confirmed COVID-19 case and is mandatory for all SA Health hospital based staff.

It provides a consistent assessment protocol to determine whether testing for COVID-19 is required, what PPE is required and what type of room is appropriate for the patient.

PPE stock boost

SA Health has partnered with Adelaide-based company Detmold to source 10 machines to manufacture 45 million N95/P2 medical respirator and Level 3 barrier protection surgical masks for use in South Australia.

South Australia has also secured more than 1.7 million pieces of PPE, including surgical masks and N95 masks, providing much needed protection for our staff.

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Increased hospital capacity

Dedicated COVID-19 facilities

Dedicated facilities at the Wakefield Hospital, ECH College Grove and the Repat have been established, creating 278 additional beds throughout the health system.

Additionally, the Royal Adelaide Hospital is the dedicated COVID-19 treatment facility for adults, Flinders Medical Centre for high risk pregnant women and the Women’s and Children’s Hospital will treat paediatric patients.

Private and public hospitals

In a first for South Australia, private hospitals will be used as part of the State’s response plan to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agreement between the State and Commonwealth will provide the local health system with up to 1,700 beds and significant ICU capacity.

Flinders Medical Centre expansion

The $45.7 million expansion of the Flinders Medical Centre Emergency Department will be brought forward by 4 months to provide extra capacity throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Women’s and Children’s Hospital boost

The Women’s and Children’s Hospital has opened more high dependency beds and is training around 80 nurses to work at an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) level.

An additional three High Dependency Unit beds had already been established with planning underway for an additional 10 ICU beds for South Australian women and children. 

Public communication campaigns

Advertising campaigns that aim to educate the general public to help stop the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).