COVID-19 in WA: Mask mandate extended to Wheatbelt and Great Southern

Greig JohnstonThe West Australian
WA’s mask mandate has been extended.
Camera IconWA’s mask mandate has been extended. Credit: Matt Jelonek/Getty Images

The mask wearing mandate will extend to the Wheatbelt and Great Southern from 6pm Thursday night as COVID continues its march across WA.

Announcing the new restriction - which also applies to anyone who has visited either region since January 20 - Premier Mark McGowan warned it was only a matter of time before face coverings in indoor public places would be a requirement across the entire State.

The move comes after it was revealed on Wednesday that a Cunderdin resident had tested positive to COVID, prompting the Wheatbelt shire to cancel its Australia Day celebrations.

No cases have been confirmed in the Great Southern at this point but Mr McGowan said the health advice was to include the region in the expanded mandate.

“What this will mean obviously is people in those regions have to wear masks in public indoor settings and secondary students will have to wear them at school as well,” Mr McGowan said.

“The expectation is in due course, in public in those settings, that there will be a mask wearing requirement coming into effect over the coming days or weeks across the entire State.”

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 27: West Australian Premier Mark McGowan looks as Health Minister Roger Cook addresses the media during a press conference at Dumas House on April 27, 2021 in Perth, Australia. Lockdown restrictions across the Perth and Peel regions of Western Australia were lifted as of midnight on Monday. Perth entered a three-day lockdown on Friday after a breach at a hotel quarantine site. While stay-at-home orders have been revoked, meaning residents are now able to leave their homes, masks remain mandatory indoors and outdoors and on public transport. All schools will resume although secondary school students will be required to wear a mask. Primary school students do not need to wear masks, and teaching staff at primary and secondary schools are permitted to remove masks while teaching. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
Camera IconMark McGowan masks up. Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images

Ten new locally acquired COVID infections have been diagnosed overnight, with each case linked to existing cluster.

Three of the new cases are linked to the Willagee IGA while the remaining five are close contacts of a previously reported case in the Rockingham area.

The remaining two cases are connected to a cluster in Perth’s south western suburbs.

Mr McGowan said none of the new infections were related to the outbreak at a Kemerton lithium plant, which currently stands at 17 cases.

Contact tracers are now working with the new cases to determine whether they spent any time in the community while infectious.

So far, no new exposure sites have been listed on Thursday.

There are two COVID patients receiving treatment in hospital – one of which, a returned overseas traveller in theirs 60 who was double vaccinated, remains in ICU.

Following the identification of a COVID positive case in Cunderdin on Wednesday, WA Health is urging anyone who lives in the Wheatbelt and has any symptoms to get tested immediately and isolate until they receive a negative result.

Despite daily infections rising by double digits every day this week, just 5635 West Australians presented for testing on Australia Day – well down from 8368 on Tuesday and 9831 on Monday.

The number of cases confirmed to be the more transmissible but less deadly Omicron variant has increased by 50 since Monday, while no additional cases of any other strain have been identified.

Two additional COVID cases were also diagnosed in returned travellers, one from overseas and one from interstate.

Overall there are 131 confirmed active cases in WA, of whom 17 are in hotel quarantine, 112 are self-isolating and two are in hospital.

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