'Be prepared': Dire warning over new 5-day virus lockdown in WA

Tom Flanagan
·News Reporter
·3-min read

The president of Western Australia’s branch of the Australian Medical Association has warned the snap lockdown in Perth and two nearby regions could extend beyond its initial five days.

Dr Andrew Miller said it is “pretty unlikely” the hotel quarantine worker who was diagnosed with the virus on Sunday has not passed it on to others.

“We believe we will find positive cases,” he told the ABC News channel.

“It seems statistically unlikely that, particularly if this gentleman had one of the newer variants that with the description of where he has been and the amount of time he had symptoms, no one has picked it up from him.”

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 31: People are seen queuing at the  Royal Perth Hospital Covid-19 Clinic on January 31, 2021 in Perth, Australia. Premier Mark McGowan has announced a five-day lockdown across the Perth, Peel and South West regions of Western Australia, effective from 6 pm local time on Sunday 21 January. The lockdown measures come following the discovery of a positive COVID-19 case in a worker at a quarantine hotel. From 6 pm, people in the Perth, Peel and South West regions of Western Australia will be subject to stay at home orders, and will only be allowed to leave their homes to shop for essentials, for medical or health needs, exercise within their neighbourhood or to travel to work if they cannot work from home. Face masks will be mandatory outdoors. All restrictions are in place until 6pm on February 5. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
People queue at the Royal Perth Hospital Covid-19 Clinic late on Sunday night. Source: Getty

The male worker in his 20s had visited more than a dozen venues while infectious.

“We need to be prepared that it could be a longer lock down than five days,” Dr Miller said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday those in lockdown faced “hard days” ahead, and while previously reluctant to see lockdowns used over long periods of time, he warned swift action was needed.

“One thing we've learned is we cannot be too careful around these new strains,” he said at the National Press Club in Canberra.

“There is so much still we don't know about them and they can move very quickly. You don't want to be on the wrong decision of how quickly you move when these new strains are coming in.”

Complacency may have kicked in, president suggests

Dr Miller said it appeared those in charge of running the quarantine program had “dropped the ball”, when asked why the quarantine worker was allowed to have a second job on top of working at the Sheraton Four Points hotel in Perth's CBD.

“Perhaps there is a degree of complacency in the state because of our [period of being] 10 months COVID-free.”

From 6pm on Sunday, metropolitan Perth, the Peel region and the South West region, is locked down until 6pm on Friday.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 01: Members of the public attend the Rivervale drive thru Covid-19 testing clinic on February 01, 2021 in Perth, Australia. Lockdown restrictions are now in place across the Perth, Peel and South West regions of Western Australia following the discovery of a positive community COVID-19 case in a worker from a quarantine hotel facility.  As of 6pm on Sunday, people Perth, Peel and the South West are subject to stay at home orders, and will only be allowed to leave their homes to shop for essentials, for medical or health needs, exercise within their neighbourhood or travel to work if they cannot work from home. Face masks are now mandatory outdoors, with all restrictions to remain in place until 6pm on February 5. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
There were lengthy queues at drive through testing clinics in Perth on Monday. Source: Getty

All residents must stay home unless shopping for essentials, attending to medical or healthcare needs, exercising within their neighbourhood, or working if unable to do so remotely.

Schools which were due to resume on Monday will remain closed for another week.

Premier Mark McGowan has urged Western Australians to adhere to restrictions.

"This is a very serious situation, and each and every one of us has to do everything we personally can to stop the spread in the community,” he said.

Dr Miller said it appeared the state’s contact tracing system was in order, however noted it was relatively untested.

The man’s three housemates have tested negative so far but have been placed into hotel quarantine for 14 days. Any other close contacts will also be required to isolate.

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