Third day of no new cases: McGowan

03/02/2021 - 12:00

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For the third consecutive day, Western Australia has not recorded any new locally-acquired cases of COVID-19.

Premier Mark McGowan. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

For the third consecutive day, Western Australia has not recorded any new locally-acquired cases of COVID-19.

During a press conference this morning, Premier Mark McGowan said the result was very encouraging, but warned that the state was not out of the woods yet.

The state is now more than halfway through a five-day lockdown of the Perth metropolitan, Peel and South West regions after a hotel security guard at Four Points by Sheraton in Perth's CBD contracted the UK strain of the coronavirus from a returned overseas traveller.

The guard, a man in his 20s, is understood to have contracted the virus while working on the same level as the traveller’s room, and had reportedly not been wearing a mask while doing so.

In the last three days, more than 32,800 Western Australians have presented for testing - including more than 138 people considered to be close contacts of the man.

Mr McGowan warned those that had been to any of the 18 potential contact sites the man had visited in the time that he was contagious to get tested and remain extra vigilant.

Health authorities have now identified and contacted 189 of the man's close contacts, with 138 of them having now been tested and all in quarantine.

The 54 returned overseas travellers due to be released from hotel quarantine at the Four Points by Sheraton were held back and tested, all of whom returned a negative result.

Mr McGowan said he expected a gradual easing of restrictions from 6pm on Friday, provided no new cases are recorded in the next two days.

He said the state would need to record 14 consecutive days of no locally-acquired cases before life could return to normal.

Health Minister Roger Cook clarified that despite what had been reported yesterday, the security guard did not deliver goods to the room.

On January 24, the guard had been sitting in a chair near the stairwell monitoring the floor.

It is understood that seven authorised people wearing PPE visited the room throughout the day, but health authorities have not yet determined how the man contracted the virus.

Just moments ago, opposition leader Zak Kirkup demanded the government provide an adequate supply of personal protective equipment for hospital staff, ensure hotel quarantine workers wear a mask at all times and admit that its system had failed.

Mr Kirkup said he was disturbed by news that not all hotel quarantine staff had been required to wear masks and that the government should immediately order all hotel quarantine workers to wear masks at all times.

“The reality is that we’re in a five-day lockdown because we have seen failures in our hotel quarantine system.

"Unfortunately, after all this time, after Western Australians have done all this heavy lifting, there still seems to be a lot of confusion within the government about the exact circumstances surrounding what has occurred and what can and cannot happen in a hotel when dealing with a returned traveller.

“The chief health officer’s advice is very, very clear, and we support that, but the government has failed to implement that accordingly.

"I think we're at a point now where we should see some leadership and some admission that they have failed. This was obviously a clear failure of policy and a clear failure to implement the chief health officer's advice.”

The two recommendations are in addition to the demands the party made yesterday, which included establishing a 24-hour COVID testing clinic and preventing frontline workers from holding second jobs.

Mr McGowan refuted claims that the state did not have enough PPE, saying the allegations were completely untrue.

Health Minister Roger Cook confirmed that the state was working with the Health Department to implement a scheme (expected next week) that would prevent frontline workers from having second jobs.

More to come.

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