Western Australia has registered a new local case of COVID-19, a close contact of another case in the recent Perth outbreak triggered by a backpacker.
- New locations of exposure include South Bunbury, Preston Beach and Perth
- There are still 24 close contacts in the outbreak that have yet to be tested
- Restrictions are in place as Perth prepares to celebrate New Year’s Eve
The latest infected person is in hotel quarantine and has been interviewed by contact trackers.
Prime Minister Mark McGowan said several exposure sites had been identified in Perth and the south-west of the state, amid fears the virus could have spread to this region for the first time during the outbreak.
New exposure sites have been built in South Bunbury, Fremantle, Preston Beach, South Fremantle, Perth and Kardinya.
They include the train line between Perth and Fremantle as well as bus routes from Kardinya, Spearwood and Hilton to Fremantle.
“Our contact tracking team is working to identify exposure sites and follow up on contacts, but we need you to do the right thing and get tested,” McGowan said.
“If you’ve been to an exposure site, step up right away.”
The latest infection brings the number of local cases related to the outbreak to 14.
Tests not performed on 24 tight contacts
The outbreak started with a French backpacker testing positive on December 23 after arriving from Queensland.
He had visited several places in Perth, including several nightclubs on the same evening.
WA Health has now identified 720 close contacts in the outbreak, 24 of which have not yet been tested. There are 1,488 random contacts, of which 231 have yet to be tested.
There are also four new WA cases of COVID-19 related to returning travelers, all of which are in hotel quarantine.
There are 32 active confirmed cases in WA, where 5,139 Western Australians were swept to clinics yesterday.
New Year’s Eve threatens with restrictions
As Perth remained under restrictions triggered by the outbreak, Police Minister Paul Papalia urged people to have fun on New Year’s Eve, but to make it safe and responsible, especially if alcohol was involved.
“What often happens is that people, especially young men with alcohol and testosterone on board, can get along and end up having their evening ruined and ruining the evening for other people,” he said.
Although nightclubs have been forced to close and concerts canceled, Papalia said most licensed venues were still open with seated service and that people could enjoy “far greater freedom than pretty much anywhere else in the country and most places in world”.
The state government has announced that event organizers will be compensated as much as 75 percent of their ticket losses, up to a ceiling of $ 150,000, although this may be waived in some circumstances.
Papalia said it was a very generous compensation scheme, but sympathized with companies hard hit.
“It’s a sad thing. It’s part of the pandemic,” he said.
Although masks are not mandatory outdoors, the government encourages people to wear masks outdoors when celebrating New Year’s Eve to ensure they are COVID safe.
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