Mark McGowan to make major COVID announcement on Thursday night

Peter Law The West Australian
Premier Mark McGowan at a COVID update media conference.
Camera IconPremier Mark McGowan at a COVID update media conference. Credit: Nic Ellis/The West Australian

Mark McGowan will hold a press conference at 7.30pm tonight to make a significant COVID-19 announcement.

The Premier will appear alongside Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson, Chief Health Officer Andy Robertson and Acting Police Commissioner Gary Dreibergs.

There is unconfirmed speculation that the restart of quarantine-free international and interstate travel on February 5 -- just 16 days away -- could be pushed back.

Mr McGowan previously said the only reason he would delay the border reopening was due to an “unforeseen emergency”, such as if the Omicron strain turned out to be more deadly.

He committed to banishing the border on February 5, once WA had reached 90 per cent double dose vaccination. As of Thursday, 88.9 per cent of over 12s had received two doses.

About 6000 interstate and international passengers are due to touch down at Perth Airport on February 5, with up to 80,000 interstate and international passengers expected in the first two weeks.

Earlier today, five new locally acquired COVID infections – including a mystery case that was in the community while carrying the virus – were announced by WA Health.

Four of the new cases are close contacts of previously discovered infections, two of whom spent some time in the community while infectious.

But the remaining case has no known links to either the Omicron-driven Cockburn cluster or the Delta cluster associated with a French backpacker.

Australian Nursing Federation WA secretary Mark Olson renewed his calls for the February 5 reopening to be delayed.

He also revealed health workers who dealt with a COVID-19 infected patient at Fiona Stanley Hospital’s emergency department on Monday night were not issued with N95 masks.

Mr Olson said: “If this is what happens with one COVID positive patient what is going to happen after the WA border opens on February 5 when we will have hundreds and then thousands of new cases each day?

“This proves we are a long way from where we need to be on the February 5, so I again ask the Premier not to open on that date.”

The State Government first introduced strict interstate travel controls on March 24, 2020 -- 667 days ago -- when arrivals were ordered to self-quarantine for 14 days.

On April 2, 2020, a hard border was imposed to stop travellers without a police exemption from entering WA.

More to come.

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