Race to test 300 plus Perth COVID contacts

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    Authorities in Western Australia are frantically trying to locate and test more than 300 people who came into contact with a potentially infectious man who caught COVID-19 in a quarantined hotel. The Perth and Peel regions are in a snap lockdown after the man spent five days visiting friends and family in and around the city.

    He tested positive yesterday after returning to Melbourne. Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan said the state was “not out of the woods yet”. The Premier also sprayed at the Federal Government, demanding it “step up” and quarantine overseas arrivals in dedicated Commonwealth facilities rather than CBD hotels.

    Two WA cases in the last 24 hours

    Talking to reporters on Saturday afternoon, Mr. McGowan said two new COVID-19 cases had been reported in WA in the last 24 hours. One was a woman who traveled from India and was in hotel quarantine. The other was a woman in her 40s, a receptionist, a previously announced close contact of the Victorian man.

    “He spent time with her and traveled around with her a bit over the five days,” Mr. McGowan said. Authorities in WA are part way through identifying and testing 337 contacts of the man and woman in Perth. Of those, 71 are close connections, 109 are casual contacts, and the remainder hasn’t been determined. So far, 27 close contacts have tested negative, the Premier said.

    COVID

    “Not out of the woods.”

    “I know it has been difficult, and I know it has been frustrating,” said Mr. McGowan about the lockdown. “These are encouraging signs, but we’re not out of the woods just yet, particularly with the number of contacts that we are awaiting test results for.

    “I will repeat, anyone who has visited the list of potential exposure sites should get tested immediately and isolated.” The state has provided a list of potential exposure locations throughout Perth on the Healthy WA website.

    Victorian authorities said today that all four of the man’s household contacts – which saw him landing from Perth and getting his result – had been tested in Melbourne and had come up negative. The man tried cheerfully after completing 14 days of quarantine at the Perth Mercure hotel.

    A pregnant woman and her four-year-old daughter have also tested positive after their stay, having contracted the virus from an infected couple who had returned from India and stayed a room opposite them.

    Mr. McGowan said all the other people on the same floor of the Perth Mercure hotel had been tested and were harmful to the virus. As are the staff who worked on that floor. At least 60 motorists were stopped by police attempting to leave Perth or Peel after the lockdown kicked in at 2am.

    The Premier took a swipe at the Federal Government in Canberra, saying it, not the states, had ultimate responsibility for hotel quarantine. “I have been calling for the Commonwealth’s assistance with quarantine for many months now.

    “CBD hotels are not fit for purpose quarantine facilities. Several Commonwealth facilities would be more suitable for quarantine purposes.” Mr. McGowan has previously flagged using Christmas Island as a quarantine camp for overseas arrivals.

    Although it’s not clear how that would work in practice given international flights land in Perth. “The pandemic will be here for at least the rest of this year,” Mr. McGowan added. “It is time for the Commonwealth to step up and help. “My government stands ready to work with them and help establish Commonwealth quarantine facilities.

    “It is the only way to help reduce the risk further. We cannot continue down this path for another year or beyond.” Mr. McGowan also said he had written to the Commonwealth asking them to cut by half the number of permitted international arrivals to Perth each week. He said he wants to go from over 2000 people landing weekly to 1025.

    Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, and the Northern Territory introduced new restrictions following the WA outbreak. The Victorian demand that its residents returning from WA go into 14 days home quarantine goes far beyond the measures being enacted in WA itself, where people will be able to emerge from lockdown early on Tuesday.

    Non-Victorians will have to go into hotel quarantine until a return flight is arranged. The state’s chief health officer said anyone in Victoria who had been in the Perth and Peel regions between April 17 and 23 must isolate, get a test within 72 hours and isolate until a negative result.

    Anyone who visited the Qantas terminal (terminal 1) at Melbourne Airport between 7pm and 7.30pm on Wednesday, April 21, must be tested and isolated until they get a negative result. In NSW, those arriving into Sydney from WA must complete a declaration form, available from Service NSW’s website, which confirms they have not attended a venue of concern.

    Passengers who have been to any of the locations of concern listed by the Western Australian government will be told to immediately be tested and self-isolate. Other passengers should isolate until Perth’s lockdown is completed on Tuesday.

    The Queensland government has said anyone in the state who has been in the Perth or Peel regions since April 17 must get tested, self-isolate, and comply with WA’s lockdown restrictions.

    South Australia said anyone who visited any of the locations listed on the Western Australia Department of Health website at the specified date and time should get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible and isolated until they get a negative result. They should also get tested again on day 5 and day 13. The Northern Territory said people arriving from the Perth and Peel regions from midnight will have to go into mandatory quarantine.

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