Andrew Miller has sounded a note of caution after WA recorded no new cases of COVID-19 overnight, arguing the result was not evidence of no community transmission.
Andrew Miller has sounded a cautious note after Western Australia recorded no new cases of COVID-19 overnight, arguing the result was not evidence of no community transmission.
That comes after a security guard in one of Perth’s hotel quarantine facilities tested positive for the highly contagious UK variant of the virus.
More than 3,000 people who had possibly come into contact with the man were tested, with all of them having so far returned a negative result.
Speaking with Business News this afternoon, the president of the Australian Medical Association WA argued no new cases did not prove there was no community transmission of the virus, given there were still many more casual contacts yet to be tested and that it could take between five to seven days for an infected patient to return a positive result.
“It’s a good number of people who got tested as a start, but we do have a lot more people yet to test,” Dr Miller said.
“There’s a lot more people than 3,000 involved in those exposures by the time you add them all up.
“It’ll take a little bit of time and that’s why it’s smart move to do it over five days.
“If we get to the end of the week and we’ve still found nothing, that’s a very valuable piece of information if the testing rates are high enough.
“Just now there’s not enough data.”
In those comments, he flagged systemic issues with housing patients in hotels for quarantining, as well as a lack of engagement with the private sector to expand testing, as major gaps in the Department of Health's response.
While the state government has reportedly begun considering some of these issues, such as the outsourcing of casually employed security personnel, Dr Miller said the Australian Medical Association WA had already raised these issues in public.
“I note with some slight alarm they (the state government) have announced no less than three inquiries about what’s going on,” he said.
“We don’t need inquiries.
“We’ve got the examples … which are the obvious things to do.
“They just need to make immediate administrative changes.”
Today's news comes less than a month after Queensland enforced its own snap, three-day lockdown after a cleaner from a hotel quarantine facility contracted the UK variant of COVID-19.
No cases of community transmission emerged during that period, with WA set to reopen its border to the state later this month.
Dr Miller urged Western Australians to be aware that the lockdown may yet last for weeks if community transmission is detected, but was confident the public would follow the state government's directives as needed.
"The last lockdown was a bit of a blank cheque, because we had no real idea and thought for periods that it would be years of lockdowns," he said.
"This time around, at least, we know that lockdowns work.
"We’ve seen other states bring it under control and we know that we can do the same thing."