News Coronavirus Blame game begins as WA records another COVID case

Blame game begins as WA records another COVID case

Perth's Mercure where the COVID virus slipped from room to room. Photo: AAP
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Western Australia has recorded a fresh community case of COVID-19, bringing the number of known local infections linked to a Perth quarantine hotel to two.

Both confirmed cases contracted the virus from a man who was quarantining at the Perth Mercure Hotel and is believed to have caught it from fellow travellers on the same floor.

The 54-year-old had flown in from Shanghai, China, and received negative tests throughout his two weeks of quarantine.

He left quarantine on April 17 and spent five days in the community, spending time with a Kardinya woman, who has contracted the virus.

The pair dined at a Malaysian restaurant, The Kitchen Inn on April 18, where a man in his 40s who was there at the same time contracted the virus.

His positive test result was announced by WA Health on Saturday afternoon.

High-risk sites

The Kitchen Inn, in Kardinya, as well as five other eateries in East Victoria Park, Morley and Northbridge, are deemed high-risk sites and anyone who dined there during exposure times must quarantine for two weeks.

Another 20 exposure sites are not considered as risky – but those who attended at exposure times must self-isolate until they receive a negative test result.

The man who had been in quarantine flew home to Melbourne on April 21.

When he landed, he was contacted by WA health authorities who instructed him to isolate immediately because of virus transmission on the floor of the quarantine hotel he had stayed in.

He was tested in Victoria and his positive result was announced two days later.

The outbreak has triggered a snap three-day lockdown across metropolitan Perth and the Peel region.

Residents can only leave home for work, shopping for essentials, healthcare or exercise for one hour.

Dawn services scrapped

Anzac Day dawn services have been cancelled and people must wear masks when leaving their homes.

Premier Mark McGowan has said he hopes the lockdown will end as planned at midnight Monday.

Genomic testing has confirmed the virus initially spread in the corridors of the Mercure Hotel from a couple who had returned from India.

A pregnant mother and her four-year-old daughter who were staying across the corridor tested positive and remain in quarantine at the hotel.

The Victorian man had been staying in a room adjacent to the Indian couple. Victorian authorities on Friday said he was asymptomatic.

Premier blames Canberra

Mr McGowan criticised the Commonwealth government on Saturday for making the states shoulder the burden of hotel quarantine.

“I have been calling for commonwealth assistance for hotel quarantine for months now,” he said. “I’m getting to the end of my tether.”

However he was issued a swift rebuke, with a government spokeswoman in Canberra said states and territories had agreed more than a year ago to manage hotel quarantine under their health orders.

“As the Premier has been advised, and as health, defence and border force officials have detailed to the Parliament, defence bases and immigration centres are unsuitable for quarantining returning Australians,” a spokesperson said.

Mr McGowan suggested Commonwealth facilities at Curtin Air Base, near Derby, could hold 1500 people, or Christmas Island could be used as a quarantine site.

“CBD hotel quarantine is not fit for purpose,” he said.

Unsuitable accommodation

Mr McGowan is seeking to limit WA’s international arrivals to 512 a week for the next month.

Documents released by the government this week identified the Mercure as one of three hotels considered “high risk” due to ventilation issues.

WA’s chief health officer received the report on April 8 and wrote to the Premier last Friday advising that the Mercure should stop being used.

The mother, who is six months pregnant, and her daughter at the Mercure returned positive tests that day.

The Mercure will soon no longer accommodate returned travellers and the government will review the continued use of the other high-risk hotels.

-AAP