28/01/2022 - 14:17

Nine new local COVID cases, WA prepares for case surge

28/01/2022 - 14:17

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WA has recorded nine new local cases of COVID-19, as the state government unveils the new protocols that will come into effect when cases inevitably surge.

Nine new local COVID cases, WA prepares for case surge
The high caseload rules broadly aligned with those in other jurisdictions, Mr McGowan said. Photo: David Henry

Western Australia has recorded nine new local cases of COVID-19, as the state government unveils the new protocols for casual contacts, close contacts and critical workers when the number of cases within the community inevitably surges.

Seven of the nine new cases have been linked to various clusters across Perth, with WA Health investigating the source of two of the new infections.

New public exposure sites are expected to be added by the end of the day.

The announcement came just hours after a meeting of the State Disaster Council to discuss how the state’s current protocols will need to change when the state reaches a larger caseload.

During a press conference this afternoon, Premier Mark McGowan said while the virus was still at manageable levels, the state would inevitably be in a high caseload environment in the near future.

He said the state government had developed new protocols for high caseload and very high caseload environments, protocols which struck the right balance between suppressing the virus and allowing society to operate as smoothly as possible.

The high caseload rules broadly aligned with those in other jurisdictions, Mr McGowan said.

When WA reaches a high caseload, casual contacts will no longer be considered, with the current testing and isolation requirements enforced to be removed.

The definition of close contact will also change, with those required to test and isolate defined as a household member or intimate partner, or someone who has had close personal interaction for 15 minutes or has spent more than two hours in a room with a positive case during their infectious period.

The approach is aligned with that of South Australia.

Those who test positive for COVID will be required to quarantine for seven days, or until they recover, with no test required after seven days.

A symptomatic close contact will be required to self isolate for seven days, take a PCR or RAT test and will need to return a negative test again before leaving isolation.

In a very high caseload environment, the state government will ease these rules for those considered critical workers, including healthcare staff, police and emergency services personnel.

Those in transport and logistics, supermarkets, pharmacies, petrol stations, agriculture, building and construction, defence, schools and childcare and critical resources will also be deemed critical workers.

If they are symptomatic, they will be required to follow symptomatic close contact protocols, if asymptomatic and crucial to the continuity of operations, they must return a negative RAT daily and wear a surgical mask outside the home and travel alone.

When not at work, they must self-isolate, but if symptoms develop, they must follow symptomatic close contact rules.

If a RAT is positive, they will be required to follow confirmed positive case protocols.

Mr McGowan said the future settings were designed to provide businesses and industry the opportunity to plan and prepare for higher levels of daily cases.

New protocols have also been unveiled for those in the education sector, with schools to be the “first to open and the last to close”.

A date for the introduction of the new rules is yet to be set, with the date set to be based on the advice of the chief health officer.

The announcement comes as Australia recorded its deadliest day of the pandemic yesterday, with 98 deaths.

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