South Australia has expanded its COVID-19 home quarantine trial to Australians returning home from low-risk countries. But are the measures involved during the 14-day home quarantine period over the top?
The Australian home quarantine system uses a new app to electronically monitor people in isolation, employing facial recognition technology and in-person checks.
The international traveller trial currently involves about 90 Australian Defence Force personnel who are returning this week from lower-risk countries including the UK.
All participants were pre-selected and had to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and have a suitable home available that was self-contained with no shared corridors, lifts or other facilities.
They travel in their own vehicles from the Edinburgh RAAF Base to their accommodation with a police escort, where they will stay for the full 14 days of their quarantine period.
The trial participants need to provide a negative test result 72 hours before the flight departs for Australia, another on arrival and then further tests on days three, five, seven, nine and 13.
That’s 7 tests in total over the 14 day period.
They will also be subject to random location check-ins using live facial verification via the app three times a day, while police will conduct at least one random physical compliance check each night.
Sound a tad over the top?
The expanded 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.”
Health Minister Stephen Wade said the strict measures surrounding the trial were in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 entering the South Australian community.
“This trial will provide us with important feedback on the viability of adding home quarantine as another option for Australians returning home from overseas, but it must be done in the safest way possible,” he said.
“Throughout the pandemic, quarantine has been one of our most important forms of defence from the virus and, as we further increase vaccination rates, it is hoped that expanding international quarantine to home isolation will become more prevalent.”
Deputy Chief Public Health Officer, Doctor Emily Kirkpatrick, said the home quarantine app would also 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 will include handy reminders of the testing schedule and expected quarantine completion date, with users receiving an end-of-quarantine certificate via the app once they’ve received a negative day 14 test.”
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