Perth will enter a harsh five day lockdown after authorities learned of a hotel quarantine breach in which a security guard tested positive to Covid.
Western Australia’s Premier Mark McGowan called an urgent press conference on Sunday to explain a man in his 20s tested positive to the virus after midnight on Saturday.
He worked two shifts at Sheraton Four Points in Perth’s CBD, and was stationed on a floor where at least one returned traveller was diagnosed with the highly infectious UK strain of the disease.
Mr McGowan said genomic sequencing is already underway, but it would be reasonable to accept that the man has contracted the mutant strain, and that his close contacts would test positive in the coming days.
The state had enjoyed close to 10 months without a single case of Covid-19 in the community, a feat Mr McGowan credits to his tough stance on borders.
Western Australia’s Premier Mark McGowan held an emergency press conference on Sunday
But due to the new case, there will be a five day lockdown beginning 6pm on Sunday, with residents only allowed to leave their homes for four reasons.
Supermarkets were struggling to cope with the demand by Sunday afternoon as panic buyers rushed to stores to stock up for the lockdown.
There are reports some have been forced to close their doors to give employees an opportunity to restock.
Mr McGowan implored the public not to rush to stock up on supplies.
He has warned that the lockdown will last at least five days, and if there are no new cases, authorities will look to slowly ease restrictions from that point onwards.
‘We’ve seen this all over the world. This virus is insidious, it is very difficult to control. We’ve done a remarkable job the last 10 months of containing that but we’ve now had an outbreak,’ Mr McGowan said.
‘Our model is to deal with it very quickly, and very harshly, so that we can bring it under control and not have community spread like in other parts of the world.’
Supermarkets were struggling to cope with the demand by Sunday afternoon as panic buyers rushed to stores to stock up for the lockdown
Authorities are investigating how the man came to be infected with Covid, and are adamant he did not ‘unnecessarily expose himself’ by entering any hotel rooms.
He tested positive to the virus on Saturday night after working two 12 hour shifts last week, on Monday the 25th of January and Wednesday the 27th.
By Thursday, the young man had developed symptoms and called in sick to work before presenting for Covid testing.
But authorities have already compiled a long list of locations across Perth that have potentially been exposed to the virus.
The list will continue to grow in the coming days as contact tracers get further information, but already includes several businesses throughout the Maylands region.
Anybody who visited one of the following locations must seek Covid testing immediately and self isolate until they receive a negative result:
- Coles Maylands on January 25th between 8pm and 10pm and January 29th between 8pm and 9pm
- KFC Maylands on January 27th between 6pm and midnight
- Mitsubishi Motors in Midland on January 27th from 7pm to close
- Consulate general of India in St Georges Terrace on January 28th at 5pm
- Venus ladies and gentleman hair design in Maylands on January 29th between 1pm and 3pm
- Perth Convention Centre on January 29th between 4pm and 6pm
- Medlands GP on January 29th between 5pm and 6pm
- Chemist Warehouse North Perth on January 29th between 5.30pm and 7.30pm
- Coles Express Shell Clovedale on January 30th between 12pm and 3pm
Authorities have already tested the man’s housemates, who have both tested negative. But there are fears they might just be in the early stages of the infection, and could still later test positive.
Mr McGowan said the employee was regularly tested as part of his contract, including on January 15th, 17th and 23rd prior to his positive test on January 30th.
The premier is begging the community to come forward and seek testing if they develop any symptoms of Covid, no matter how obscure.
He’s warned there might be delays in testing, and suggested people take ‘a hat, sunscreen and some water’ while they queue up.
Testing clinic locations will be announced shortly and will have extended hours for the foreseeable future.
The state enjoyed close to 10 months without a single case of Covid-19 in the community, a feat Mr McGowan credits to his tough stance on borders by closing his state off from the rest of Australia for most of 2020
There are reports some have been forced to close their doors to give employees an opportunity to restock. Mr McGowan implored the public not to rush to stock up on supplies
Just one day earlier, the premier announced he would allow travellers from Queensland and Victoria to fly in without having to quarantine or self isolate.
He said the decision was made in response to both states’ continued success in the fight against Covid.
From Monday February 1, Queenslanders were supposed to be exempt from the strict quarantine process, while Victorians would be welcomed in from February 5.
But Mr McGowan has now urged the public to reconsider travel plans for their own health and safety.
The development came as Australia reached a milestone two weeks without any community transmission.
But there are now concerns about whether this will go ahead, given Mr McGowan’s latest update.
The concept of a short, sharp lockdown is not foreign to Australia, with governments in both South Australia and Queensland opting to introduce them to stem the spread of Covid in the past.
Queensland’s 72 hour lockdown came last month after a cleaner at a quarantine hotel contracted the highly infectious UK strain of Covid at work.
She spread the infection to her partner, but there were no other known cases in the community.
The premier announced on Saturday he would allow travellers from Queensland and Victoria to fly in without having to quarantine or self isolate
After three days, lockdown was lifted and restrictions eased swiftly in the week to follow, with state Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk declaring the weekend an enormous success.
It followed South Australia’s decision to lock down months earlier, when Covid was detected in the community after months without any transmission.
There are fears Victoria could break its Covid-19 free spell after a test came back with an ‘indeterminate result’.
Department of Health and Human Services took to Twitter to make the announcement on Sunday.
‘DHHS received a notification of an indeterminate result last night,’ the tweet read.
‘Follow up tests are underway and precautionary public health actions are being taken. There will be an update on the case later today.’
From Monday February 1, Queenslanders were supposed to be exempt from the strict quarantine process, while Victorians would be welcomed in from February 5