Australia

Perth plunged into lockdown after recording its first locally acquired coronavirus case in 10 months

A male hotel quarantine security guard in Perth has tested positive for coronavirus, marking the first locally acquired case in Western Australia for almost 10 months. 

Perth, Peel and the southwest region – around 80 per cent of the state’s population – will be sent into a full five-day lockdown in response to the outbreak from 6pm on Sunday.

The man, in his 20s, worked at the city’s Sheraton Four Points Hotel. 

Premier Mark McGowan said the state has immediately begun contact tracing and would ramp up testing in response to the outbreak.

More positive cases among close contacts of the man are expected to be confirmed, he said.

Based off the variants present in the hotel where the man worked, the case may well be of the highly contagious UK variant, which was present on the same floor where the man worked, Mr McGowan said.

The guard completed two 12-hour shifts on both 26 and 27 January and developed symptoms on 28 January. He phoned in sick and has not since returned to work at the quarantine facility. 

Mr McGowan also revealed that the security guard may have been employed in a second job as a ride share driver, but that he didn’t work any shifts since his last shifts in the hotel.

The premier said the state would act early and decisively to get on top of the situation. State authorities are compiling a list of potential exposure sites where the positive case has been in recent days, with anyone who has visited the sites urged to get tested and self-isolate while they await results. 

“I could not be more proud and thankful of the way Western Australian have carried themselves. Now we are asking for your help once again. I urge the community to act calmly. This is crucial,” Mr McGowan said. 

From 6pm on Sunday, those in the Perth region will have four essential reasons to leave home for the next five days. These are shopping for essentials; medical or healthcare needs, including compassionate requirements; exercise within the neighbourhood with one other person for one hour per day; and work when you cannot work from home or remotely.

The Perth area will go into lockdown for five days after a hotel quarantine worker tested positive to COVID-19.

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Schools, due to reopen for Term 1 tomorrow, will remain closed. Hospitality venues, gyms and sporting venues, playgrounds and places of worships will close while restaurants and cafes will be able to provide takeaway only.

Funerals will be able to continue with 10 people, while weddings will be cancelled for the next five days. Visitors to aged care home or hospitals will not be allowed unless under exceptional circumstances.

Masks will be mandatory on all public transport and if leaving home for any reason including work, the premier said.

Anyone in the Perth area from another WA region is urged to stay.

He also urged people not to panic buy, saying the transport of essential goods into the region will continue.

Mr McGowan said a “pretty tough” response regime was crucial.

“It is as hard as anywhere, designed to try to crush the virus and stop it from getting a foothold in Western Australia,” he said. 

“This will be very disruptive to many families and many businesses. But what we’re trying to do is have a period of disruption rather than a long period of disruption, and therefore some adverse health outcomes. We are trying to crush the virus as quickly as we possibly can,” he said. 

The premier said he had been in touch with his state and territory colleagues and had recommended they put a stop to any travel into WA as a precautionary measure.

Later on Sunday, Queensland declared Perth and some surrounding regions a coronavirus hotspot. This means anyone arriving from the area from 6pm on Sunday must undergo a 14-day hotel quarantine.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction’s restrictions on gathering limits. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

Please check the relevant guidelines for your state or territory: NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory, ACT, Tasmania

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