Coronavirus crisis: Premier Mark McGowan and Health Minister Roger Cook reveal two more WA deaths as cases tally reaches 470

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Josh ZimmermanThe West Australian
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Premier Mark McGowan with Health Minister Roger Cook.
Camera IconPremier Mark McGowan with Health Minister Roger Cook. Credit: supplied

Western Australia has recorded two new COVID-19 deaths overnight.

A woman in her 70s died at Royal Perth Hospital and a man, who was a passenger on the Artania cruise ship and also in his 70s, died at Joondalup Health Campus.

Six people have now died of the deadly virus in WA hospitals, including two foreign nationals from the Artania.

Of the four West Australians who have succumbed to COVID-19, three have already been linked to cruise ships.

It is not yet clear whether the woman who died overnight had travelled on an ocean liner, but Health Minister Roger Cook said she had returned from overseas.

Ten new cases were diagnosed in the past 24 hours, bringing the WA total to 470.

Four of the new cases were former cruise ship passengers, three had returned from overseas travel, one was the close contact of a previous confirmed case and the remaining two are still under investigation.

The new patients are aged between 46 and 84, nine are from metropolitan Perth and one is from the Kimberley.

There are currently 54 COVID-19 cases being treated in WA hospitals, including 15 in intensive care.

The new Kimberley case is a healthcare worker from Halls Creek – the second medico to be diagnosed with the disease in the small town.

They were a close contact of the original case, for whom contact tracing is now complete.

Mr Cook said the first worker had not come into contact with any Aboriginal people while considered infectious.

Efforts to reduce transmission of COVID-19 and “flatten the curve” in WA have been so successful Mr Cook said new modelling suggested the peak of the virus might now arrive until November.

“A long flat curve is much better for the community than a sharp high one,” he said, adding the deadly virus may well persist throughout next summer and emphasising the importance of social distancing and good personal hygiene.

Premier Mark McGowan said modelling based on international COVID-19 cases, released by the Doherty Institute, showed as many as 30,000 West Australian may have died of the disease if no preventative measures had been taken.

Despite the success of those measures, he warned there was no room for complacency.

“The harsh and sad reality is we continue to lose West Australians to the virus,” Mr McGowan said.

“This is a marathon not a sprint. The months ahead are going to be hard. They are going to be frustrating, tedious and at time evens boring.”

Parliament will meet for two unscheduled days next week Wednesday and Thursday to discuss COVID-19 related legislation, including laws to ensure short-term Lotterywest funding is directed to charities, payroll tax deductions and new rules governing commercial tenancies to enforce the decision of National Cabinet that no tenant be evicted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A lot of commercial tenants have had their incomes collapse — commercial rents should reflect this,” Mr McGowan said, adding the WA government had taken steps to waive rents for tenants in its own properties and encouraging commercial landlords to “do the right thing”.

The Premier revealed “targeted” changes to land tax were also being considered to “potentially provide some relief to both landlords and tenants”.

He assured Year 12 students they would graduate at the end of the year and receive an ATAR.

“It may mean exams are later this year or courses are reconfigured,” Mr McGowan said.

“All of that work is being done but ATAR, as far as we are concerned, is going ahead this year.”

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