Perth into lockdown after COVID outbreak

Metropolitan Perth and the Peel region will go into a three-day lockdown from midnight on Friday after a hotel quarantine outbreak led to community transmission.

Anzac Day dawn services will be cancelled and all people in the affected regions must wear masks when leaving their homes from 6pm on Friday.

Premier Mark McGowan says the lockdown is a necessary measure after two people spent several days in the community while infectious.


ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT


They include a 54-year-old man who stayed in the Mercure Hotel, the source of the outbreak, and completed quarantine on April 17 after arriving from China.

He spent his first night out of quarantine at the home of a friend, a Kardinya mother-of-two who has also tested positive.

The man travelled widely and visited locations including popular tourist spot Kings Park before leaving Perth on April 21.

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 man who tested positive in Victoria had been staying in a room adjacent to the couple from India. Victorian authorities on Friday said he was asymptomatic.

Mr McGowan said he hoped the lockdown would not need to be extended beyond the long weekend.

“I know this is hard to take and I wish we didn’t need to be doing this,” Mr McGowan told reporters.

“But we can’t take any chances with the virus. We just can’t.”

People in the locked-down regions will only be allowed to leave their homes for four reasons: work if they are unable to do so from home, shopping for essential items, medical or healthcare needs or exercising for one hour per day.

Crowds will be allowed to attend Friday night’s Perth Wildcats NBL game and Western Force rugby game but will be required to wear masks.

The premier said he would personally discourage people from attending.

No crowds will be allowed when Fremantle host North Melbourne at Optus Stadium in a Saturday night AFL clash.

The man who tested positive after leaving the Mercure flew to Melbourne on flight QF778 which departed on Wednesday carrying 257 passengers.

Victorian authorities are contact-tracing passengers and anyone who has returned to WA will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days.

The Mercure is one of three Perth quarantine hotels deemed to be of “high-risk” for ventilation issues.

Mr McGowan this week announced the Mercure would no longer accommodate returned overseas travellers.

It will instead transition to a “low-risk” quarantine hotel for a flight-load of seasonal workers expected to arrive from Tonga and Vanuatu next month.

Documents released by the government have revealed the extent to which it was aware of risk factors at its quarantine hotels.

Chief Health Officer Andy Robertson received a report on April 8 which identified three hotels – the Mercure, the Sheraton Four Points and Novotel Langley – as being “high risk” for ventilation issues.

Dr Robertson wrote to the premier last Friday advising that the Mercure was the highest-risk of the three hotels and it should no longer accommodate returned travellers.

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

In his letter to the premier, Dr Robertson said the risks could be mitigated by changes such as installing HEPA air filters in rooms with positive cases.

The ventilation report was commissioned after a security guard at the Sheraton contracted COVID-19 in January, prompting a five-day lockdown.

© AAP 2021