As Western Australia’s health authorities remain on high alert for further local cases of COVID-19, more exposure sites have been added to the list.
A childcare centre and a busy ‘high risk’ restaurant have been added to the list of places visited by an infected person, amid concerns that Perth’s three-day lockdown could be extended.
Despite the state registering zero new locally acquired cases on Sunday, Premier Mark McGowan has declined to rule out extending lockdown for the city of Perth and surrounding Peel area past midnight Monday.
After a contaminated case dined there between 6.45pm and 8pm on Thursday, Thai Thyme at Lakeside Joondalup has been reclassified as a ‘high risk’ venue.
Regardless of the outcome, everyone in the restaurant at the prescribed time must be checked and self-isolate for 14 days.
Thai Thyme is one of six restaurants in Perth that have been designated as ‘high risk’ exposure locations.
On the revised list of exposure sites published by WA Health on Sunday, Landsdale Early Learning and Enrichment Childcare in Perth’s north appears four times.
April 20 from 4.45pm to 5.15pm, April 21 from 4.45pm to 5.15pm, April 22 from 4.30pm to 5pm, and April 23 from 5pm to 5:30pm are all times to be concerned about.
As health authorities scramble to organise special testing schedules for children and their families, all impacted parents have been contacted.
On Sunday, a new case was discovered in a return overseas traveller from India who is currently quarantined in a hotel in Western Australia.
The news comes after the announcement on Saturday afternoon of a second locally acquired case related to the Perth Mercure Hotel outbreak – a man in his 40s who dined at the same restaurant as two confirmed cases.
On Monday, Mr. McGowan will determine if the lockdown will be lifted at midnight.
On Sunday, he told reporters, ‘Right now, it’s too early to guess what will happen on Tuesday.’
‘We’d like to see further work done.’
‘Most importantly, we need close and casual contacts, which means someone who has visited the exposure locations during the test periods.’
‘So please continue to do the right thing.’ We all work together to give us the best chance of escaping lockout and returning to normalcy safely.’
So far, 72 of the 306 close contacts reported have earned a negative result. So far, 13 of the 56 casual encounters have tested negative.
On Saturday, nearly 12,000 West Australians showed up for testing. The Premier forewarned that the number of contacts would likely increase.
‘Right now, the situation for us is very real,’ Mr McGowan added. ‘This latest case of population transmission emphasizes the importance of the temporary lockout.’
‘We need to give our touch tracers the best shot at figuring out where these positive cases went and who may have been exposed,’ says the spokesperson.
There are currently 31 active cases of the virus being monitored by WA Health. If the lockout is lifted as planned at midnight Monday, the Premier has hinted that some steps will remain in effect.
‘We won’t know what they are until tomorrow morning,’ Mr McGowan said. ‘We’ll get health advice tomorrow morning, and I think people should be prepared for the possibility that any additional steps will be implemented beyond Monday.’
We don’t know what they are at the moment, but we’ll figure it out over the next 24 hours,’ he said.
The outbreak was started by a 54-year-old Victorian man, who appears to have contracted the virus from a fellow returned traveller while in quarantine at the Mercure Hotel, and then spread it to his female Kardinya companion, whom he was visiting.
Around 21 exposure sites are not considered dangerous, but those who visited them must self-isolate before a negative test result is received.
The infection of the Victorian man was discovered about a week after he left hotel quarantine and travelled to Melbourne.
When he arrived in Melbourne on April 21, WA authorities advised him to get checked and separate himself because a pregnant woman and her child were staying at the hotel and had tested positive.
The virus was first transmitted in the Mercure Hotel’s corridors by a couple who had returned from India, according to genomic research.
The Victorian gentleman had been sharing a room with the Indian couple. According to government documents published this week, the Mercure is one of three hotels that are deemed ‘high risk’ for ventilation problems.
The report was received by WA’s chief health officer on April 8, and he wrote to the premier last Friday recommending that the Mercure be discontinued.
The woman, who is six months pregnant, and her daughter both tested positive that day at the Mercure.
Returning travellers will soon be unable to stay at the Mercure, and the government will check the usage of the other high-risk hotels.
Premier Mark McGowan thanked residents of Perth and Peel for their support during the lockdown on Saturday.
If people had been to an exposure site reported on the WA health website or were feeling unwell, he and Health Minister Roger Cook urged them to get screened.
Mr McGowan expressed his hope that the lockdown would end on Monday at midnight, as scheduled.
He chastised the Commonwealth for failing to have adequate quarantine facilities, claiming that CBD hotels were inadequate.
The federal government quickly rebutted his remarks, claiming that alternative detention centres for defense or immigration were not as secure and lacked adequate hospital access.
Mr McGowan also chastised the government for allowing excessive travel to and from India in recent weeks, despite the country’s ongoing virus outbreak.
The government reacted by stating that it had taken steps to halt the influx of people entering and leaving high-risk countries.
Since April 17, domestic travellers from Perth and Peel to other parts of Australia have been subject to isolation orders, and Queensland has closed its border to them.