WA Covid border restrictions: Case record puts pressure on Mark McGowan

West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has confirmed a new date for the border reopening will be announced this month, as the state’s number of local Covid-19 infections continues to climb.

The Premier has been under pressure to set a new date after the February 5 reopening was scrapped as Omicron surged in the eastern states.

Since then, WA’s local cases have been increasing more so than the number of infections coming from interstate or overseas.

WA recorded 62 new cases overnight, including 48 local infections and 14 linked to travelers. Three of the new infections remain a mystery.

Three aged care homes — Juniper Cygnet, Brightwater The Cove, and Coolibah Care — and 30 schools are dealing with outbreaks in WA.

It brings the state’s total number of active cases to 471 but none are in hospital.

Meanwhile, Qantas has announced a delay of its direct Perth to London flight from mid-March to mid-June, but Mr. McGowan denied the airline had been given inside information about the border reopening.

“That would be improper and inappropriate, so we’re not going to do that just to give some quiet advice for someone,” the Premier told reporters on Tuesday.

Asked if it was safe to assume the border would open earlier, Mr McGowan replied: “I can’t give you an exact answer.”

He further added: “Clearly, with our vaccination rates growing very significantly, the eastern states coming off the peak and children’s vaccination rates growing, and as case numbers climb here, we’ll reach an outcome at some time and we’ll make that announcement during this month.”

Concerns remain that not enough people are getting tested.

WA has a PCR test capacity of 35,000 per day, but Mr. McGowan said some people might be turning to RAT kits.

Opposition Leader David Honey told the ABC that the low testing rates were the government’s fault.

“It is fair to say, the Premier has lost the trust of the people of Western Australia when he broke his contract with them on February 5 in terms of opening up the state,” Mr. Honey said.

New COVID-19 Restrictions Introduced In Perth And Peel Regions Following Community COVID-19 Case
The Premier is under pressure to reopen borders. Picture: Matt Jelonek/Getty Images

“West Australians went out, they got their first job, they got their second jab, they’re overwhelmingly getting their booster jab, they’ve isolated, they’ve done all the things the Premier has required.

“And he’s bailed, and I think people are just fed up with the Premier making promises and not sticking with them.”

But Mr. McGowan insisted the recently tweaked hard border, which allows for more exemptions, was “obviously working” because WA had low case numbers.

“Whilst it is working, we’ve also had around 25,000 people come in safely over the course of the last two weeks from the eastern states, who are quarantining and being tested,” he told reporters.

“Those 25,000 people have reunited with families, caught up with friends and what have you, so that’s been a good outcome in a safe way.

“The border arrangement we have in place allows for family members to come in, subject to a week’s quarantine, to being tested, and secondly, it’s in place to protect the health and lives of West Australians.

“That’s all we’re trying to do whilst we get our third dose vaccination rate up.”

Mr. McGowan said WA had a third dose vaccination rate of about 51.5 percent.

“By the time we reopen the interstate and international borders, we will be one of the highest vaccinated places in the world and one of the safest populations in the world,” he said.

This article originally appeared on Escape and do not necessarily represent the views of australiaexploring.com

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Before joining Australia Exploring, I was a writer at Tripadvisor.

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