15/12/2021 - 13:35

WA slams shut border with NSW as COVID cases surge

15/12/2021 - 13:35

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The state government has upgraded New South Wales from high risk to an extreme under its controlled border arrangements, as the number of COVID cases in the state continues to surge.

WA slams shut border with NSW as COVID cases surge
Mr McGowan said the evolving situation was "very concerning", with the number of cases having risen rapidly in recent days. Photo: David Henry

The state government has upgraded New South Wales from a high risk to an extreme jursidiction under its controlled border arrangements, as the number of COVID cases in the state continues to surge.

The news comes just hours after New South Wales reported 1,360 new cases of COVID-19 overnight, 110 of which have the Omicron variant.

On the advice of Western Australia's chief health officer, the state will be elevated to the ‘extreme’ risk category from 12.01am on Saturday, December 18.

Under the updated risk rating, reserved for jurisdictions that record an average of more than 500 cases per day over a five to 14-day period, travel will be restricted to Commonwealth, state and specialist officials.

Those deemed to be in extraordinary circumstances, as determined by the state emergency coordinator, will be required to return a negative PCR test, provide proof of vaccination and undergo quarantine in a state facility.

Currently, travel is permitted from Tasmania, Queensland and Northern Territory, with 14 days of self-quarantine and COVID-19 testing, while travel from the ACT and South Australia remains reserved for approved categories of travellers.

New South Wales will join Victoria, which is also deemed an extreme risk jurisdiction.

In a statement released this afternoon, the state also flagged plans to halve its international arrivals cap of 530 from December 23 in a bid to ensure capacity in hotel quarantine and safeguard models are maintained given the heightened threat of the Omicron variant.

Premier Mark McGowan said the evolving situation was "very concerning", with the number of cases having risen rapidly in recent days, and urged Western Australians in New South Wales to return home immediately.

"We need to do everything we can to keep Western Australia safe, while we get WA’s vaccination rate up to 90 per cent and remain free of COVID in the community," he said. 

“Western Australians currently in New South Wales with an approved G2G Pass should come home immediately, because once the reclassification kicks in Saturday they will not be able to do so, except for the most extraordinary circumstances.

“This is not a situation to take lightly and it is necessary because my priority is the health of Western Australians first and foremost.”

Meanwhile, the state's vaccination rate continues to climb ahead of the planned reopening of the border on February 5.

The latest data shows 89.3 per cent of Western Australians over the age of 12 have now received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination, with 80.3 per cent fully vaccinated.

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