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Western Australia records seven new Covid cases despite Mark McGowan slamming border shut

Western Australia has recorded seven new local Covid-19 cases despite slamming its border shut to the rest of Australia, with Mark McGowan hinting residents could be closed off for months as the government scraps double-dose vaccination targets.

The Premier said on Friday three of the cases are linked to known contacts of previous infections, while four infections remain a mystery raising fears an out-of-control Omicron wave is set to hit the hardline Covid state. 

Mr McGowan sensationally backed down on his promise to reopen the WA to the rest of the country on February 5, with no date set on when free travel to WA would resume. 

Mr McGowan sensationally backed down on his promise to reopen the state to the rest of the country on February 5

Western Australia has recorded seven new local Covid-19 cases despite slamming its border shut to the rest of Australia. Pictured: Cottesloe Beach, WA

Western Australia has recorded seven new local Covid-19 cases despite slamming its border shut to the rest of Australia. Pictured: Cottesloe Beach, WA

He initially said the state would reopen its border when the vaccination rate hits 90 per cent. WA is now at 89 per cent. 

But the state Labor government now say they they wont be relying on double-dose vaccination targets. 

Instead, the take-up of booster shots will determine when the state finally throws its doors open, with 70 per cent triple-vaxxed now the new target. 

But this could take several months with only 27 per cent of the state’s residents having received a booster vaccination.

While the backflip has been met with fury from many residents after months of promises the state would finally reopen, Mr McGowan has received support from political allies.

Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese threw his support behind the Premier’s decision to indefinitely enforce hardline border measures.

In a late-night press conference on Thursday, Mr McGowan said WA reopening as planned on February 5 would be ‘reckless and irresponsible’ given the large amount of Covid-19 cases in the eastern states.

Mr Albanese said while some may have been disappointed by the border decision, the WA premier made the right call.

Mark McGowan hinted residents could be closed off for months as the government scraps double-dose vaccination targets. Pictured: Passengers arrive to Melbourne International Airport arrive fromWA

Mark McGowan hinted residents could be closed off for months as the government scraps double-dose vaccination targets. Pictured: Passengers arrive to Melbourne International Airport arrive fromWA

The take-up of booster shots will determine when the state finally throws its doors open, with 70 per cent triple-vaxxed now the new target

The take-up of booster shots will determine when the state finally throws its doors open, with 70 per cent triple-vaxxed now the new target

‘I told (Mark McGowan on Thursday night) I respected and supported the decision,’ Mr Albanese said in Sydney.

‘People were keen to visit loved ones, but the first priority of Mark McGowan has been to keep WA safe. People in WA enjoy life almost as normal, certainly compared with NSW.’

Mr McGowan said the border delay would allow for more people to receive booster doses and for children to get fully vaccinated against Covid.

Mr Albanese said the booster rollout would be critical to providing COVID protection.

‘Mark McGowan has done the right thing by WA which is keeping their health ok, which is a precondition for keeping their economy ok,’ he said.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese pictured with his partner Jodie Haynon. He has thrown his support behind Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan's move to keep his state border shut indefinitely

Labor leader Anthony Albanese pictured with his partner Jodie Haynon. He has thrown his support behind Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan’s move to keep his state border shut indefinitely

The border decision has meant neither the opposition leader or Prime Minister Scott Morrison would be able to get into WA for campaigning ahead of the federal election, due to be held by May 21 at the latest.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said while he could understand the decision made by the west, more certainty was needed for residents going forward.

‘(West Australians) would be asking, ‘If not now, when?” Mr Frydenberg told the Seven Network on Friday.

Poll

DO YOU AGREE WITH MCGOWAN’S DECISION?

  • Yes 592 votes
  • No 1573 votes

‘This is a decision that the Western Australian government themselves have taken, and one for them to explain, but obviously people in WA would be disappointed with the decision.’

Defence Minister Peter Dutton said the federal government would provide support to WA in the wake of the state’s decision to hold off on reopening its border.

‘We’ll provide whatever support required to WA, we want to see Australia get through this,’ Mr Dutton told the Nine Network.

‘At the moment, the most important thing is to see WA through to the other side because people are separated from their families.’

The decision to hold off reopening has been slammed by the president of the Australian Medical Association Dr Omar Khorshid.

The state will instead open in stages with a expanded list of exemption criteria (pictured)

The state will instead open in stages with a expanded list of exemption criteria (pictured)

‘Gutted … seems Mark McGowan is a one-trick pony when it comes to COVID-19,’ he said on Twitter.

‘This decision should be acknowledged as a failure by the WA government to prepare and a broken promise.’

Dr Khorshid said WA could not stick its head in the sand, with an outbreak in the state inevitable.

It comes after another deadly day of the pandemic across the country, with NSW recording their highest daily death toll since the pandemic began.

There were 46 deaths reported in NSW, which included seven deaths that were historical cases.

Victoria had 20 fatalities on Friday, while Tasmania also recorded a new death, the state’s first since April 2020.

Across the country, there were 25,168 cases in NSW, 18167 in Victoria and 866 in Tasmania.

ALL THE CHANGES TO WESTERN AUSTRALIA’S REOPENING PLAN:

Premier Mark McGowan announced the hard border currently in place in WA would remain past the original reopening date scheduled for February 5. 

The government has instead opted to reopen the state in stages with quarantine restrictions to remain indefinitely. 

Instead, relaxed travel exemptions will be enforced and will allow the following groups to enter the state: 

– Returning residents with strong recent connections with WA

– Returning residents with family connections in WA

– Compassionate reasons like funerals, palliative care or terminal illness

– People entering for urgent or essential medical treatment

– People entering WA for national or state security reasons

– People with specialist skills

– Commonwealth and state officials, members of parliament, and diplomats

– Other extraordinary circumstances that have been approved by the Chief Health Officer or Police Commissioner

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk