Western Australia has notched up a hat-trick of days without community transmission of COVID cases, prompting a promise from Premier Mark McGowan.
“If we continue on our zero cases streak, that would be a great achievement. A credit to all Western Australians,” he said.
“I want the WA community to understand that if we do continue on a zero streak through to Friday, the full lockdown will end.”
WA’s third consecutive day without local coronavirus cases on Wednesday came from record testing. More than 12,000 turned out for virus testing in WA on Tuesday.
So far, there has only been a single case in the potential outbreak that sparked the snap five-day lockdown of millions of people in Perth, the neighbouring Peel district and the state’s South-West region on Sunday – the security guard who was infected while working in hotel quarantine.
Mr McGowan said 189 of the guard’s close contacts had been identified, with 138 returning negative COVID tests. Authorities have also identified 234 casual contacts, who have so far returned 116 negative results.
In addition, 54 returned travellers who had been in quarantine at the Four Points Sheraton where the quarantine leak was identified will also shortly enjoy their freedom.
“We held them back for an additional COVID-19 test to be carried out. The results all came back negative and they willnow be released today,” Mr McGowan said.
He was upbeat about WA’s lengthening virus-free streak. But said the state was “not out of the woods yet”.
“Like we have seen in other states, some form of restrictions will be necessary for the following week or so,” he said.
“Based on health advice, we know this virus can linger, so even though we could potentially have no community transmission come Friday, it does not mean we are 100 per cent in the clear.
“I want to get back to normal as quickly as possible. But we need to see at least 14 days of no community transmission before we can return to our unique life here in Perth, and WA’s South-West and Peel, that we were all enjoying throughout January.”
Authorities are yet to reveal what restrictions might remain in place beyond the lockdown, although schools are expected to return next Monday.
Questions also remain about the breach at the Sheraton Four Points, including whether the security guard behind the outbreak was wearing a mask when he delivered medication to a sick guest.
Health Minister Roger Cook on Tuesday revealed hotel quarantine guards were not expected to wear a mask at all times, even while on the same floor as confirmed COVID patients.
Genomic testing has linked the guard’s case to the same highly contagious British variant of the virus present in two recently returned overseas travellers.
He is believed to have delivered medication to one of the travellers who was accommodated on the same floor on which he was working on January 24.
Mr Cook has said the government will review whether hotel security guards should be required to wear a mask at all times.
The family of the guard, a man in his 20s dubbed “case 903”, has told The West Australian newspaper he has no serious symptoms but is distraught about having potentially infected others.