In today's COVID-19 Wrap, WA records its fourth day with no new locally acquired cases, State Disaster Council set to meet and the vaccine rollout on track for February.
Western Australia’s five-day lockdown is on track to be lifted at 6pm tomorrow after the state recorded no new locally acquired cases for the fourth consecutive day.
The news was revealed by federal Health Minister Greg Hunt during a press conference this morning, who confirmed that the only new community case nationally had been recorded in Victoria.
The state is now four days into a five-day lockdown of the Perth metropolitan, Peel and South West regions after a hotel security guard at the Four Points by Sheraton hotel in Perth's CBD contracted the highly contagious UK strain of the coronavirus from a returned overseas traveller.
The guard, a man in his 20s, is believed to have become contagious on January 25, after which he visited several locations across the Perth metropolitan area.
The news coincided with Prime Minister Scott Morrison's announcement that Australia had secured an additional 10 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, with the rollout of the COVID vaccine on track to begin in a matter of weeks.
Mr Morrison said the additional vaccines would take the total number of doses secured to 150 million, with the rollout on track to begin in the last week of February.
The state government will convene a meeting of the State Disaster Council this evening to determine how the state should ease lockdown restrictions after the state recorded no new locally acquired cases for the fourth consecutive day.
More than 40,500 Western Australians have been tested for the virus since the lockdown began on Sunday, including the majority of the man’s 191 close contacts now in quarantine.
The man’s four closest contacts, including his roommates, have also returned their second negative test result today.
Mr McGowan said the news was a remarkable achievement, and testament to the work of all Western Australians, but urged the public to stay the course and not to get complacent.
The investigation into how the man could have contracted the virus is ongoing, with officials expected to provide a full report on the incident in the coming days.
The state did record two new overseas cases, both of whom are in hotel quarantine.
Opposition leader Zak Kirkup has demanded the state government reveal how it plans to ease the restrictions beyond tomorrow, saying the lack of clarity had caused chaos and confusion.
Mr Kirkup said the state’s sudden lockdown had had a significant impact on small businesses and the general public and demanded the state reveal its plan beyond the lockdown today.
“We are demanding that the state government reveal what the public can expect beyond tomorrow’s lockdown and that the state provide immediate support to small businesses affected by the lockdown to give them a degree of certainty,” he said.
“We know that small businesses are losing tens of thousands of dollars a day as a result of this lockdown and we’re demanding that the state government provide the sort of relief that has been provided in every other jurisdiction around the country.”
In the last 48 hours, the Liberal Party has made a suite of demands; including that the state government establish a 24-hour COVID testing clinic, supply adequate PPE to frontline workers, prevent frontline workers from having second jobs, and have them masked at all times.
Western Australia's five-day lockdown has won the endorsement of an academic whose modelling was instrumental to the state government’s much-lauded initial response to COVID-19.
George Milne, professor of engineering and computer sciences at the University of Western Australia, told Business News that it was the right move for WA to enter into the five-day lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus.
He compared the approach to that taken by Victoria, which opted to gradually apply social distancing measures in June before slipping into a three-month lockdown.
Victoria has since recorded more than 20,000 cases and 820 deaths, the highest of all states and territories in Australia.
Professor Milne, whose modelling of COVID-19’s spread has been used in WA, SA and Queensland’s response, argued rapidly implemented lockdowns were the best way to avoid excess mortalities and lengthy shutdown periods.
WA will soon be home to 10, solar-powered hand sanitiser dispensers as part of a $1.5 million deal with Henderson-based outfit Matrix Composites & Engineering.
Those hand sanitiser units, dubbed SOLSAN, will be installed by the end of the financial year with a six-month community consultation period to follow.
Each unit will be automatic and feature bulk storage capacity with the ability for 10,000 dispenses before requiring a refill.
Matrix chief executive Aaron Begley said he was delighted to provide a product he believes is the first of its type to be designed and manufactured in Australia.
“It provides us with a fantastic opportunity to support the wider community whilst unlocking a significant new market opportunity for the company,” he said.