Coronavirus: Pizza shop worker’s lie plunges 1.7 million people into strict lockdown

The Woodville Pizza Bar gave police the wrong information (Image: Getty Images)

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An entire state was plunged into lockdown because a pizza shop worker lied to officials.

South Australia was placed into its harshest coronavirus lockdown yet after contact tracers were wrongly led to believe a man was infected with a highly contagious virus with a much shorter incubation period.

In a shock announcement today, state Premier Steven Marshall said the six-day strict lockdown would be lifted earlier-than-expected, at midnight on Saturday, as the virus was not as contagious as initially thought.

Marshall reiterated it was still a "dangerous" cluster with 25 infections and about 4,500 close contacts in quarantine.

A security guard at a quarantine hotel, who also worked part-time at the Woodville Pizza Bar, in the state capital of Adelaide, was infected through a returned traveller from the UK.

The employee was infected through a returned traveller from the UK
(Image: Getty Images)

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A second worker, not identified by the authorities by name, at another quarantine hotel in the city also became infected.

Authorities said the man told contact tracers that he had only purchased a pizza from the same bar, when in fact they later discovered he worked several shifts there.

Authorities believed that he had contracted the virus from a very short exposure while buying pizza, leading them to assume that he must have been exposed to a highly contagious strain.

"Had this person been truthful to the contact tracing teams, we would not have gone into a six-day lockdown," Marshall told a news conference in Adelaide on Friday.

The pizza shop worker's words triggered a strict lockdown
(Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

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The contact tracers now need to find and isolate a whole new group of people who have had contact with the man.

"There is an absolute need for us to move quickly over the next 24-36 hours to identify and locate these people so we know we have eliminated the risk of this particular strain spreading further into the community," Marshall added.

The contact tracing team sat down and interviewed the worker.

Another team reviewed the information obtained in the interview, but wasn't satisfied with "the feeling they got from this", South Australia Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said, speaking at the conference.

Grant Stevens said officers became suspicious of the pizza shop worker's answers
(Image: Getty Images)

The review team went back to re-interview the man, who finally disclosed he worked several shifts at the pizza bar.

Premier Marshall said it was not yet clear what the man's motivation was.

"There is simply no mechanism for us to actually take any further action," Marshall said.

Authorities are still trying to locate thousands of people who may have had "dangerous contact" at the Woodville Pizza Bar.

The state's chief public health officer, Nicola Spurrier, also warned that the number of cases in South Australia would rise over the next couple of days, though those individuals are already in isolation and are not a threat to the wider community.