A family of four has tested positive to the coronavirus in Western Australia after returning from overseas, as the state prepares to significantly unwind restrictions.
The two adults and two small children had flown in from Sudan and are in hotel quarantine.
“Today’s experience really just goes to show how important it is that we have these quarantine options in place,” Health Minister Roger Cook said on Friday.
The four new infections mean WA has 30 active cases, a significant rise on previous weeks. Among them are nine locals, one person from interstate and 20 crew from the Al Kuwait livestock ship.
None are in hospital.
The state will ease a host of COVID-19 restrictions on Saturday, including raising the limit on gatherings to 100 people, with 300 allowed in venues with multiple divided spaces.
Many businesses will resume trading, including beauty parlours, cinemas and gyms. Rottnest Island – which was used to quarantine overseas travellers early in the pandemic – will reopen to tourists and travel will resume to all areas of the state with the exception of 274 remote indigenous communities.
WA will also be the first state to abandon the nationwide four-square-metre rule, instead imposing a two-square-metre rule for indoor and outdoor venues.
More than 4000 people were tested for the coronavirus on Tuesday, WA’s biggest day of testing yet.
Thousands of asymptomatic people, including school staff, transport workers and fly-in, fly-out workers, are also being tested every day.
Perth Zoo will have no patron limit when it reopens on Saturday.
Thousands are expected to flock to the zoo after it was closed for the first time in its 122-year history because of the pandemic.
Hot spot warning for Victorians
A primary school in Melbourne’s north was closed on Friday after a student tested positive for the coronavirus – sparking a warning about hot spots of community transmission in the city.
Victorian chief health officer Brett Sutton said the prep student from Newbury Primary School in Craigieburn returned a positive test on Wednesday.
It was one of three coronavirus infections confirmed in Victoria on Friday morning. The others were in returned international travellers.
The school was expected to reopen on Tuesday, after the long weekend.
But the prep student’s diagnosis showed there were apparently low levels of community transmission of the virus in Melbourne’s north and north-west, Professor Sutton said.
“Right from Keilor Downs through Fawkner to Craigieburn, this is where in the past couple of weeks we’ve seen community cases,” he said.
“These areas of Melbourne appear to be the hot spots at the moment and so people, really, from that inner-west to inner-north of metro Melbourne really need to consider – if they have symptoms – to get tested, to isolate if they’re symptomatic.”
In late May, Keilor Downs Secondary College was closed after a student’s positive COVID-19 test. Other students from schools in surrounding suburbs were asked to self-isolate because they were close contacts of the infected student.
The student was among a family cluster of coronavirus cases that has also been linked to Global Resource Recovery in Laverton. The plant closed on May 29, after two employees linked to the Keilor Downs outbreak were diagnosed with COVID-19.
NSW’s community breakthrough
NSW reported four new coronavirus cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday.
All were in returned travellers, and none were from community transmission.
For the first time in many weeks, the state had no COVID-19 patients in intensive care. “An excellent result,” NSW Health said in a statement on Friday.
But authorities believed the virus is likely to be still circulating in the community, and the risk of outbreaks and a rise in cases remains. Premier Gladys Berejiklian echoed the caution on Friday.
“The potential for a second wave and an outbreak of coronavirus is extremely high in NSW, which is why we’ve been very cautious and very consistent in asking people to follow the restrictions,” she said.
“Can I say, from the bottom of my heart, I am so deeply grateful for the patience the community has demonstrated.”