Perth, Peel, South West 5-day lockdown after COVID case
Perth has been plunged into a five-day lockdown after a hotel quarantine security guard contracted COVID-19 then went to a large number of locations in the community, not knowing he had it.
WA Premier Mark McGowan held an emergency press conference on Sunday afternoon, revealing WA’s first locally-acquired case in almost 10 months.
He said the male guard aged in his 20s had been working at Four Points by Sheraton in the CBD where there were four active cases, including two of the UK variant and one of the South African mutant strain.
The Maylands resident had tested negative on January 15, 17 and 23 but developed symptoms on Thursday, January 28.
Mr McGowan said it was suspected the man had the highly contagious UK variant as he had worked on the same floor as a case of that strain.
“Exactly how the infection was acquired remains under investigation,” the Premier told reporters.
“We suspect he contracted the illness on the Tuesday or the Wednesday.
“We are advised that he may have been a driver for one of the rideshare companies.
“The last day he worked in the hotel was Wednesday, but we are advised, and this is being carefully followed up, that he did not do any other work in the time since.”
WA Health Minister Roger Cook said the man was potentially infectious while out in the community, listing multiple businesses in Maylands he had been to as well as the Consulate General of India and Perth Convention Centre.
“Something did go wrong and we do need to get to the bottom of it,” Mr Cook said.
“It is a serious situation and that is why we invite everyone to undertake the measures that we are all familiar with, that we undertook during March and April last year.
“For five days … just make sure that we take the opportunity to get on top of this situation.”
The man “would have” been wearing personal protective equipment at the hotel, Mr Cook said.
He shares a unit with three other people who have so far returned negative results – but that will likely change.
“We put them into hotel quarantine, because the chances are they will subsequently test positive,” Mr McGowan said.
WA chief health officer Andy Robertson said the man was probably infectious from January 26.
The lockdown applies to the Perth, Peel and South West regions and begins at 6pm WST on Sunday, running until 6pm on Friday.
“People in the Perth, Peel and South West regions need to stay inside their region for the next five days, unless for an essential reason,” the Premier said.
Those are: shopping for essentials like groceries and medicine, to receive medical care, exercising within your neighbourhood with one other person for one hour per day and working when doing so from home is not possible.
Wearing a mask at all times outside, while working indoors and on public transport is mandatory.
Mr McGowan strongly encouraged anyone currently in the Perth, Peel and South West areas who are from another WA region to stay put.
“Do not travel further outside of this area until the lockdown is over,” he said.
“If you do need to travel outside the region you are in now, that can only occur if you need to return to your place of residence.”
Pubs, bars and clubs, gyms, indoor sporting venues, playgrounds, skate parks, outdoor recreational facilities, places of worship, libraries and the Crown casino are among venues that must close.
Restaurants and cafes can provide takeaway service only and just 10 people can attend funerals.
Weddings are cancelled.
No visitors are permitted to homes unless caring for someone vulnerable or in an emergency, and no visitors will be allowed into aged care homes and hospitals unless there are exceptional circumstances.
School was due to start on Monday but that has now been put on hold.
Mr McGowan said international arrivals would continue for now.
“We currently have half capacity, 512 Australians returning per week,” he said.
“It alleviated the pressure on our hotels.
“In this circumstance it didn’t help us.
“Obviously we’ll see what happens over the course of the coming week, whether we need to make a request to the federal government for that continued reduction to continue for a longer period of time.”
Perth residents immediately descended on shops en masse, with large queues forming outside pharmacists.
“There is no need to rush to the supermarkets,” Mr McGowan said.
“There will not be a shortage of toilet paper or other goods.
“You will be able to go out and shop for essentials over the course of this week. I urge everyone to remain calm and to act responsibly.”
Perth, Peel and the South West region was swiftly declared a hotspot by jurisdictions including Queensland.
Mr McGowan was asked if life would return to normal if testing showed there had not been widespread community transmission, or if restrictions would be eased gradually, and replied: “I think it will be the latter”.