The SA Government has fiercely rejected accusations it covered up an old coronavirus case among international tennis arrivals who touched down in Adelaide for an Australian Open lead-up event last month.

Key points:

  • Health Minister Stephen Wade has hit back at claims of a “double standard”
  • The Government said it was an old case and there was no need to publicly report it
  • But Labor says that goes against the practice of reporting all cases, including old infections

It follows claims from French tennis star Benoît Paire that there was a double standard between quarantine arrangements in Melbourne and Adelaide, where there was also a “positive” case on an inbound flight prior to the lead-up event.

A group of tennis players and support staff touched down in South Australia on Thursday, January 14, and immediately began a fortnight of mandatory quarantine ahead of the Day at the Drive exhibition tournament on January 29.

At the time, SA Health reported an old case of coronavirus in the state, but did not stipulate it was linked to the tennis group — despite controversy raging about quarantine for tennis players — until questions were put to them by the ABC.

The ABC reported a staff member of one of the tennis players quarantining in Adelaide had returned a negative COVID-19 test result, after previously testing positive.

Health authorities said the result was linked to a previous infection and the person was shedding the virus. As such, they did not pose a risk to others.

Now, the State Opposition has accused the State Government of keeping a lid on the news.

Information kept ‘secret’, Labor says

Labor health spokesman Chris Picton said despite the fact that the individual in question — understood to be a support staffer — had been cleared, it was an “absolute double standard”.

He said it was only now being highlighted after comments made world number 29 Benoit Paire, following his first-round loss at the Australian Open.

“There have been numerous examples where the Government have held press conferences to tell us about cases that they have known have been old infections,” he said.

“There was a different standard applied to this case than to previous cases.

“In this case, there was no notification to the public.”

Health Minister hits back

Health Minister Stephen Wade today emphatically rejected Labor’s claims, denying what had occurred was a “case of secrecy and cover-up”.


“It wasn’t a positive case on the plane in the sense of being an infectious case, it was an old case,” he said.

“In any case which is identified as an old case and it’s been previously counted and it’s not infectious, it’s not counted and it’s not reported.

“That’s consistent with the national guidelines, it’s consistent with international practice and to be frank it’s also consistent with common sense.

“If you don’t do that, you end up double counting — every time somebody goes from one country to another country, you count them again.”

Mr Wade said that in this particular case, a “test result showed very clearly it was an old infection” and was no longer considered under investigation.

“But more than that, the player had documentation … that confirmed the infection was old, that the person concerned had been identified as a positive case overseas, that they had been cleared by public health authorities overseas,” he said.

Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier also defended SA Health’s handling of the matter, saying it remained policy to publicly report COVID-19 cases in South Australia.

“To avoid double counting of cases worldwide, if any case has clearly been diagnosed overseas, has recovered and is not infectious, and previously been counted towards the international tally, there is no requirement to report this publicly,” she said.

The exhibition tournament came amid broader controversy over quarantine arrangements for tennis players, and was marred by controversy of its own when Novak Djokovic withdrew minutes before the event and then appeared mid-match.