Staff tested as South African parliament hit by COVID

The state parliament library has been closed and several building staff have been sent home after an employee tested positive for COVID.

In an email sent this morning to all construction workers, including MPs and their staff, Legislative Council Clerk Chris Schwarz and House of Assembly Acting Clerk David Pegram said: “Unfortunately, a member of the Library staff have received a positive diagnosis of COVID-19. “

Colleagues in the positive case “who have been identified as close contacts” are also undertaking PCR testing, they said.

“In view of the uncertainty, and to minimize the risk to Parliament, the library site will remain closed all week, effective Monday January 10,” said the email, which was seen by Daily.

Parliament has not sat since late last year, but the Legislative Council is expected to return for three days early next month, before the writs are issued for the March 19 state election.

Legislative Council President John Dawkins said it would be necessary for some staff to continue working in other areas of the building, but were reminded “if you are in the common areas of the building for keep your mask on and try to limit face-to-face conversations.

He said parliamentary officials were “very careful” with the library closing.

“They did everything right,” he said.

“The person was tested late Friday and got the result yesterday – I was alerted yesterday.”

Dawkins said senior officials and building staff met through Microsoft Teams last week to discuss limiting the number of people in the building in all cases, but “that doesn’t mean no one is lying. in the building “.

“I was there for a little while on Thursday and will be there again this week… we have to have staff there anyway,” he said.

However, he noted that several offices have “staff on leave at the moment” and “where it is possible to work from home, this is happening”.

The email said other library staff would now be working from home, “to the extent possible.”

“However, given the circumstances, providing the full range of library services will not be possible,” he said.

“The library intends to manage basic services (media monitoring and research services) to the extent possible, although with a potentially small number of staff available to work, some immediacy may be lacking.

“The library very much regrets this development and will be monitoring the situation over the coming week.”

It comes as opposition leader Peter Malinauskas was forced into self-quarantine last week after contracting COVID, with his wife and three children subsequently also testing positive.

MLC Greens Robert Simms also tested positive this month, after taking a PCR test on New Years Eve.

He said he was now on his tenth day in isolation and “felt better the past few days”.

“But it definitely knocked me out for a week,” he said.

“I was pretty sick. “

He said he was “looking forward to being able to go out to a small apartment” after his quarantine was over.

Prime Minister Steven Marshall, who remains in isolation as a close contact with his COVID-positive adult daughter, returned a negative PCR test yesterday.

He told ABC Radio Adelaide today that he had been offered the opportunity “to take a test at home but I stayed in Victoria Park”.

However, he said his test results had been sped up.

“I got a very quick response because [SA Pathology boss] Professor Tom Dodd wanted to know if I was positive or not as this would have had implications for the media and Professor Nicola Spurrier [with whom he had been in recent contact, with a press conference last Friday],” he said.

“So I was negative, but got a quick response because of the danger of my position with these two critical groups.”

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