Perth Enters Full Lockdown After One Person Tests Positive For Coronavirus
A number of places in Western Australia have been placed into full lockdown for at least five days after the state recorded its first locally acquired case in almost 10 months.
State premier Mark McGowan announced that restrictions would begin in metropolitan Perth, the Peel region and the state’s South West at 6pm local time today, January 31, with schools suspended and residents only allowed to leave their homes for essential reasons.
The move comes after a hotel quarantine worker in his 20s tested positive for COVID-19. His symptoms began on January 28, after which he informed his employer and stayed home from work.
Authorities believe the unnamed man, who is also believed to have worked as a rideshare driver, was infectious since January 26. McGowan said it is not yet confirmed how the man acquired the virus in the Sheraton Four Points Hotel, but that current information suggests he could have the ‘highly transmissible new UK variant’.
Under the lockdown rules, residents are only permitted to go outside to buy food, seek medical aid, care for the vulnerable, work if it is impossible to do so from home, or to exercise within their neighbourhood. The restrictions affect around 80% of the state’s population.
Masks are mandatory when in public, elective surgery has been suspended and bars, pubs, clubs, gyms and places of worship will close, though restaurants and cafes will still be allowed to offer takeaway service.
Commenting on the decision, per The Guardian, McGowan said:
This is a very serious situation, and each and every one of us has to do everything we personally can to stop the spread in the community. We have acted decisively and swiftly in these circumstances.
In effect, for a short period of time, we are going back to what we experienced in March and April of last year.
Australia has long been praised for its effective approach to tackling the coronavirus outbreak, which saw the country impose strict lockdowns immediately following the initial outbreak last year. Thanks to the stringent rules, much of the country is now back to near-normal, with very few restrictions in place.
According to SBS News, McGowan admitted the restrictions will be ‘very disruptive to many families and many businesses’, but that the move aims to ‘crush the virus as quickly as we possibly can.’
He added: ‘It is as hard as anywhere, designed to try to crush the virus and stop it from getting a foothold in Western Australia… what we’re trying to do is have a period of disruption rather than a long period of disruption, and therefore some adverse health outcomes.’
The man who contracted the virus lives with three housemates, who may test positive in the coming days. McGowan said the residents have been taken to managed quarantine to help prevent the variant spreading any further.
Lockdown is currently in place for five days, though the premier has stated that restrictions will likely be lifted gradually after the five days come to an end. He commented: ‘We are hopeful it will be no positives, but then a gradual scale-down, I would expect. That is something we will take health advice on over the coming week.’
As well as imposing lockdown, authorities in Australia have declared Perth and some surrounding regions a coronavirus hotspot, meaning anyone arriving into Queensland and Northern Territory from the area after 6pm on Sunday must go into 14-day quarantine at a designated facility.
Queensland Health announced that anyone who had travelled from metropolitan Perth, the Peel region and the South West region since January 26 should be tested and isolate until they receive their result, while the Northern Territory gave the same advice for anyone who travelled from a declared hotspot between January 25-31.
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