'Tell us more': MP

TRANSPARENCY: Member for Giles Eddie Hughes.

TRANSPARENCY: Member for Giles Eddie Hughes.

Member for Giles Eddie Hughes has called on SA Health to be more open about coronavirus cases in the country, saying it will be only a "matter of time" before a community transmission takes place.

It comes after the first case of coronavirus in Whyalla was confirmed by Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier during a press conference on Sunday. It is understood the case was related to an overseas trip and that the individual concerned is now in self-isolation at home.

The Whyalla News had many inquiries about a potential case in the steel city during the week, but no official confirmation was issued by SA Health.

Mr Hughes said SA Health played an important role in ensuring accurate information was provided to regional communities where rumours travel quickly.

"Of course, undertaking testing and waiting for the results are internal things they have to do before they can go public with certainty and accuracy," he said.

"But they need to be transparent in regional communities."

A spokesperson told the Whyalla News that SA Health did not provide a COVID-19 patient's location "as a matter of privacy".

"However, we will provide details when there is a risk to public health and contact anyone identified as a close contact to provide advice," they said.

"When a test result comes back positive, our public health team interviews the patient and a contact-tracing process occurs to identify anyone who may be at risk."

Meanwhile, the virus fears continue to impact on schooling in Whyalla with some parents choosing to keep their children at home.

Mr Hughes said there good arguments on both sides about whether schools should be closed or stay open, but it was his opinion that should be closed with essential services still available.

"Closing schools is a hard ask. It is a hard decision to be made nationally," he said.

So far there have been mixed messages at a national level, with schools closing in Victoria and the ACT, staying open in New South Wales with the official advice being "don't go" and remaining open in South Australia.

"There needs to be a consistent message on this issue," Mr Hughes said.

He encouraged locals to practise social distancing and handwashing.

Older people are most at risk from the virus.