Western Australia’s COVID-19 testing blitz has again produced no new local or overseas cases, raising hopes the lockdown will end as scheduled.
It comes after a record 16,490 people were tested on Monday, the start of a five-day lockdown for metropolitan Perth, the Peel region and the South West.
“This result on day one of lockdown is an amazing number,” Premier Mark McGowan said on Tuesday.
“Thank you to everyone who came forward and got tested. You have all done your state proud.”
It comes after a security guard at the Sheraton Four Points hotel in Perth’s CBD contracted the highly-contagious UK variant of the virus, then attended more than a dozen venues over several days while infectious.
Contact tracers have now identified 151 close contacts and 68 casual contacts of the man, who is aged in his 20s and has been dubbed “case 903”.
Each of these contacts are being tested and 104 have so far returned negative results.
Genomic testing has linked his case to the same UK variant present in two recently returned overseas travellers, one of whom was accommodated on the same floor the guard was working on.
“We are advised the guard did deliver medication to the door of this particular quarantine guest,” Mr McGowan said.
“Further investigations are underway to try to track down exactly how the case was transmitted.”
The premier announced no further overseas arrivals will be sent to the Sheraton hotel.
Existing guests who were due for release in coming days will remain there until they return another negative test. Anyone recently released from the hotel will also be contacted and required to self-isolate until they have again tested negative.
‘No hotel quarantine bungle’
WA’s health incident coordinator Robyn Lawrence on Tuesday claimed the guard “did everything right” despite failing to isolate when he first fell ill.
He eventually attended a GP practice in Nedlands and got tested.
“He was unwell, he stayed home, he sought medical advice and then subsequently the following day when he was still unwell, sought a COVID test,” Dr Lawrence told Perth radio 6PR.
“There is no bungle at this point in time.
“I will agree that the State Health Incident Control Centre is responsible for the hotel quarantine program and we take that responsibility incredibly seriously.”
Dr Lawrence revealed that the latest results had been discussed at an 8am meeting but said it was up to the government to inform the public.
The premier did not address the media until closer to midday.
Anyone living in the lockdown zone, including school students, must stay at home unless shopping for essentials, attending to medical or healthcare needs, exercising within their neighbourhood or working if unable to do so remotely.
Metropolitan testing clinics are staying open until 10pm, but Opposition Leader Zak Kirkup has called for the government to open a 24-hour clinic.
He also wants an immediate end to some hotel workers holding second jobs.
Mr McGowan has said the government is close to enforcing such a ban which is likely to be softened by a 40 per cent pay increase.
The Sheraton guard is also a rideshare driver but is not believed to have worked in that job since 22 January – several days before likely becoming infected.
He is said to be fully cooperating with a police investigation.
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.