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South Australia trials home quarantine program

Tennis Australian Open stars leave Adelaide Airport ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament, Adelaide. Source: AAP

Less than two months after the idea was approved by National Cabinet, South Australia has begun its trial of home-based quarantine. The national pilot will involve around 50 fully-vaccinated returned travellers from New South Wales and Victoria, who have a safe and secure place to quarantine for 14 days, away from other people who live there.

Premier Steven Marshall says participants are being monitored through a mobile phone application, developed by the Department of Premier and Cabinet’s Digital Technology team, in consultation with S-A Health.

"Incorporated into this new app is a geo-locator, as well as facial recognition software and people will be contacted on a random basis, we don't tell them how often, when, on a random basis, they've got to reply within 15 minutes. We don't store any of the information we just use it to verify that people are where they said they were going to be during the home-based quarantine."

If they neglect to answer a follow-up call, they’ll be checked on by police.

Professor Adrian Easterman says the safeguards that have been put in place make it a relatively low-risk exercise. He says home quarantine programs that use other types of location-based technology are already established in other parts of the world.

New Zealand is trialling its own pilot scheme later this year to test processes and systems that would allow fully vaccinated travellers from countries deemed "medium risk" to quarantine at home.

Many details of the trial won't be confirmed until September, but at this stage, participants will have to be New Zealand citizens or permanent residents who are currently based in the country, fully vaccinated, and making a short work trip to an approved list of international destinations.

They will also have to submit an isolation plan, as part of their application, that meets the health ministry’s requirements.

While the focus of South Australia's trial is on domestic travellers for now, Premier Steven Marshall says he hopes it could facilitate the return of some international students within the next four to eight weeks.

"We are very keen to get our international students back to South Australia, as quickly as possible. We've got to do it in a safe way. We've also got to do it in an economic way, otherwise we're not going to be having anybody coming in. We're still working through the final configuration for this, we don't want to rush it. We want to get it right. We want to get our international students back, but we want this pilot of bringing the international students back to be a success day one."

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People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 meters away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

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