WA Covid: Almost 1000 contacts identified as hostel locked down

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  • Mark McGowan
    Western Australian politician

Western Australia has identified five new Covid-19 cases as fears of a widespread outbreak grow after a backpacker travelled into the state and tested positive.

Premier Mark McGowan said on Friday of the new positive cases, one was a close contact of the 25-year-old backpacker who travelled from Queensland earlier this month and three were casual contacts.

The casual contacts were at an event, which had about 400 people in attendance, at the Perth Mess Hall in Northbridge on Sunday.

Anyone who attended the event must get tested and self-quarantine until January 3 under changes to rules announced on Friday morning.

Pictured is Mark McGowan and a picture of a face mask sign.
A positive case identtfied in Perth has led to masks being required in indoors. Source: AAP/Getty Images

About 100 people who attended the event at the Perth Mess Hall were staying at the Fremantle Old Fire Station Hostel.

"This morning WA Police locked down that hostel as this accommodation is not suitable for people to self-quarantine in," Mr McGowan said on Friday. 

"Everyone staying in that hostel will now be provided with more suitable accommodation to complete their quarantine period."

The 25-year-old backpacker who travelled from Queensland to WA earlier in December tested positive for Covid on Thursday.

The man is unvaccinated and went to several nightclubs, shopping centres and restaurants in Perth before feeling unwell on Sunday.

Given the number of venues he attended and the belief he could have been infectious for almost a week, Mr McGowan said on Thursday hundreds of contacts would be identified through contact tracing.

On Friday, it was confirmed 21 close contacts were linked to the backpacker, while 991 casual contacts had been identified.

Casual contacts will need to isolate until they receive a negative result, while close contacts will need to quarantine for two weeks.

Face masks mandatory indoors in Perth

The positive test on Thursday resulted in the government putting in place several restrictions for Christmas, including face masks being required at indoor venues, but not in the home or at Christmas Day gatherings.

The rule came into effect at 6pm on Thursday.

High-risk large public events including music festivals are cancelled during this time and all nightclubs closed.

On Friday, Mr McGowan announced additional restrictions for people in WA, which will be in place until December 28.

From 6pm Friday, all licensed hospitality venues, only seated service will be permitted.

WA Premier Mark McGowan speaks during an announcement in Perth on December 13, 2021.
WA Premier Mark McGowan said the border reopening date of February 5 may become redundant if there was significant community spread. Source: AAP

Speaking to reporters on Thursday night, Mr McGowan was asked whether if the spread of Covid-19 in the community would lead to the state's border reopening date, February 5, would be pushed back.

"If we have community spread of the virus, obviously the February 5 border opening in many ways becomes redundant," he said.

The February 5 date was set to allow for people in Western Australia to get the Covid-19 jab and it was expected 90 per cent of the state's population would be fully vaccinated.

How and when the state reopens to Covid-hit regions in Australia could be assessed if there is a high levels of community transmission, Mr McGowan said.

"I hope that we make it to February 5 without community spread of the virus," he said. 

Members of the public are seen wearing face masks on December 24, 2021 in Perth, Australia.
Almost 1000 people have been identified as casual contacts in relation to the Perth Mess Hall event. Source: Getty Images

"We'll be lucky to make it that far. This may be the event that provides us with community spread of the virus very sadly and very unfortunately."

Due to the spike in cases in South Australia and Queensland, Mr McGowan also announced both jurisdictions would be reclassified as "high risk".

People travelling to the state from "high-risk jurisdictions" have to apply for a Good 2G pass and be approved and self-quarantine for 14 days, among other requirements.

Both Queensland and South Australia were previously considered to be "medium risk".

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