WA Detects New Local Case of COVID-19 Amid New Exposure Sites in Perth and Southwest

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.

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.

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“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.”

Medical staff talking to people in a car while driving through the COVID clinic.
Anyone who has been to an exposure site is encouraged to be tested immediately. (ABC News)

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.

WA Police Secretary Paul Papalia listens to an outdoor media conference in front of a policewoman and an ambulance.
Police Minister Paul Papalia has called on New Year’s Eve to do the right thing.(ABC News: Tabarak Al Jrood)

“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”.

A woman and two men are waiting for an elevator wearing masks
Face masks are required indoors in public, and partygoers are encouraged to wear them outdoors as well.(ABC News: Keane Bourke)

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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