COVID-19: WA’s border will remain open to NSW despite discovery of mystery case in Sydney

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Peter LawThe West Australian
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VideoAnybody in WA who visited a NSW COVID-19 exposure site should get tested.

WA’s border will remain open to NSW despite the discovery of a mystery COVID-19 case in Sydney with no obvious links to any outbreaks.

The man in his 50s had not recently returned from overseas, did not work in quarantine and had no contacts with the hospital system.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the man was “very active in the community” and more cases were expected.

WA Chief Health Officer Andy Robertson said anyone in WA who visited one of the NSW exposure locations during the relevant times must get tested and quarantine for 14 days from their date of exposure.

A similar approach has been adopted by WA authorities in response to a number interstate COVID-19 scares in recent months.

Opposition health spokeswoman Libby Mettam said: “This more measured hotspot approach illustrates the dramatic shift of the McGowan Labor Government since the election.”

Premier Mark McGowan, however, has previously rebuffed suggestions it was akin to the NSW hotspot method, which restricts travel from certain postcodes or regions rather than entire States or Territories.

Any recent arrivals into WA from NSW were asked to remain vigilant and to get tested and isolate immediately if even mild symptoms developed.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the man was “very active in the community” and more cases were expected.
Camera IconNSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the man was “very active in the community” and more cases were expected. Credit: DAN HIMBRECHTS/AAPIMAGE

“We believe any risk to WA remains very low, but the situation highlights the importance of remaining vigilant to prevent the chance of any spread of the virus or community transmission in this State,” Dr Roberton said.

“We will continue to monitor the situation in NSW very closely and issue updated health advice if required.”

NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said the man was tested on Tuesday after developing COVID symptoms and returned a positive result on Wednesday.

“All of the usual routes where we would expect someone to have acquired the infection are not clear,” she said.

Urgent genomic testing is under way in an effort to determine any genetic links to coronavirus cases in quarantine or interstate.

Close contacts numbering in their 20s had been identified in the immediate hours after the positive result and all are now self-isolating.

An extensive list of the venues the man had visited since last Friday was also released, along with an appeal for other patrons to get tested immediately.

Worryingly, Dr Chant said the man had a “higher viral load and was therefore potentially more infectious”.

“If there is one case and we don’t have an immediate source, or there’s no direct connection that we can establish, we have to assume there are other cases,” Ms Berejiklian added.

She thanked the man for checking in to venues using QR codes, presenting for testing and doing “everything right” but said it highlighted the persistent threat of the pandemic.

“We have to maintain our social distancing,” she said.

“We have to make sure we have good hand hygiene. We need to get tested with the mildest of symptoms and very, very importantly and significantly, we need to use the QR codes.”

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