WA COVID update: Two more local cases detected, including man infectious in the community
WA has recorded two new locally-acquired cases of COVID-19, including a man who visited a hospital emergency department forcing 12 staff into isolation.
The man, who is aged in his 60s, vaccinated and lives with four other men, was infectious in the community and is believed to be linked to the growing Omicron outbreak known as the “Cockburn cluster”.
It was not yet known how he contracted the virus but he is believed to be linked to a known COVID exposure site.
Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said the man presented at Fiona Stanley Hospital’s emergency department “having had some respiratory illness” but his symptoms were not related to COVID-19.
He was not admitted to the hospital but managed under COVID safety protocols, which included staff wearing personal protective equipment.
In a statement posted online, the South Metropolitan Health Service said the man attended the FSH emergency department on Monday evening (January 17) and that “anyone that needs to get tested and isolate” would be contacted.
“My understanding is that he did present with some symptoms that were not related to COVID and it (subsequently) came through that he was positive,” Ms Sanderson said.
We do assume that Omicron is in the community ... it’s important that anyone who has been in any of the exposure sites gets tested and isolate until they get that test result.
“I think there is around 12 (hospital) staff that have been identified as close contacts and are isolating.”
In an early sign of pending changes to isolation rules - which have already been slashed in the eastern states - the Health Minister said work was now under way to establish the “exact nature of (the staff members’) contact” with the infected man, which would determine whether they could return to work in fewer than two weeks.
“We’ve seen that certainly in hospitals around the country, 14 days isolation for for close contacts is not sustainable for the health system,” Ms Sanderson said.
Ms Sanderson said contact tracers had been “working hard” to get information from the infected man about his movements but it had not been “straightforward”.
She said while genomic sequencing had not yet confirmed the link, police believed the case was related to the Cockburn cluster.
“They use a range of techniques, CCTV and investigative techniques, to establish people’s stories versus what is actually the case (and) we also had information from a third party,” Ms Sanderson said.
The other new local infection was an unvaccinated man aged in his 50s who was the close contact of a previously reported case.
Two new exposure sites were listed on Wednesday: Campbells Wholesale Store in Canning Vale (January 14) and IGA Canning Bridge in Applecross (January 13) - although Ms Sanderson said more would be added over the next 24 hours.
Hit Studio Karaoke Box in Northbridge (January 14) has also now been upgraded to a “higher risk” site, with anyone who attended the venue required to get tested immediately and isolate for 14 days regardless of the result.
Ms Sanderson said the outlook for the Cockburn cluster was “more positive than where we were on Sunday” when mandatory face masks was reintroduced in Perth and Peel but WA was “still not out of the woods”.
“We do assume that Omicron is in the community ... it’s important that anyone who has been in any of the exposure sites gets tested and isolate until they get that test result,” she said.
Another three new cases related to interstate travel were detected, bringing the number of active cases in WA to 82.
Of these, 25 are in hotel quarantine and 57 are in self-quarantine. None are hospitalised. Genomic sequencing found 34 of the infections were Omicron.
There were 5980 tests conducted on Tuesday, a drop on the previous day.
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