The West

Perth's fiercest heatwave in nearly 80 years has led to 20 people being admitted to hospital, the WA health department says.

As the rest of Australia prepares for a similar run of searing temperatures, health authorities in WA have revealed how the heat took its toll in Perth.

From December 27 until January 3, 20 people were admitted to hospitals across the city suffering directly from the heatwave of seven consecutive days over 37C.

St John's Ambulance also reported a doubling in "environmental" call-outs from the previous week, which can involve heatstroke, dehydration and burns.

During the four-day stretch between December 24 and 27, the ambulance service in the state had 28 "environmental" calls - compared with 15 on the corresponding days in the previous week.

WA's week-long heatwave ended with a scorching 42.1C on New Year's Eve, 13 degrees above the December average.

The state's average temperature for the last week of 2012 averaged a maximum of 39.3C, making it the hottest week in 80 years.

National weather forecasters are predicting a swathe of 40C temperatures across the country, with central Australia told to expect maximum temperatures of 45C or hotter for at least a week.

And Eucla, the State's easternmost locality, recorded its hottest day on record on Thursday, peaking at 48.2C, beating the previous record of 47.9C.

The Bureau of Meteorology is warning that the heatwave will continue well into next week.

Alasdair Hainsworth, assistant director of weather services, says the very high temperatures already experienced in WA are extending eastwards driven by an extremely hot air mass.

National Seniors Australia has warned the community to keep checking elderly relatives, friends, and neighbours during hot weather.

The West Australian

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