WA Health Secretary Roger Cook said the latest death was “devastating news”. (ABC News: Hugh Sando)
Coronavirus Update: Wuhan residents can leave for the first time because China reports no new deaths
Western Australia has recorded two COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total number of virus victims in the country to six.
A man from abroad in his 70s who was infected on an Artania cruise ship died at Joondalup Hospital.
In addition, a Western Australian woman in her 70s who has returned from an overseas trip has died at Royal Perth Hospital.
This is the highest daily mortality rate recorded by WA since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak.
The national death toll now reaches 48.
Health Secretary Roger Cook described the development as “bad news”.
“This disease can kill, and if we don’t take the necessary steps it will take someone else,” he said.
Mr Cook said WA had recorded only 10 new cases of the virus in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of COVID-19 states to 470.
Of the 470 confirmed WA virus cases, 170 have recovered, but 54 are still in the hospital with 15 in intensive care.
The latest positive tests include others in the town of Kimberley, Halls Creek.
There are now 14 cases of the virus in Kimberley, with Mr Cook saying the area “remains a big concern”.
Patient Kimberley health worker in isolation
Half of the Kimberley cases were health care workers, including two patients at Halls Creek.
Mr Cook said contact tracing was being carried out around the latest workers, who had been in contact with infected colleagues.
He said two patients from the new case had been identified as close contacts and were now in isolation alone and were being monitored.
Regional WA has now recorded 51 positive tests for coronavirus, including:
- 14 at Kimberley
- Five in Pilbara
- Nine in the South West
- Nine in the Great Southern
- Eight at Wheatbelt
- Three in the Middle West
- Three in the Gold Field
Mr Cook urged anyone at Kimberley who had a fever or respiratory illness to take advantage of extended and examined testing criteria.
He said it could be done in public hospitals or remote clinics in the region and in a new dedicated COVID-19 clinic will open at Broome hospital tomorrow.
Who should come to the COVID-19 clinic?
- Crowds: People who have SECOND A fever AND acute respiratory infection (for example shortness of breath, cough, sore throat)
- High-risk workers: People with AMONG fever OR acute respiratory infections (including health workers and police officers)
- High-risk settings: People with AMONG fever OR acute respiratory infections which have attended the following series in which two or more experienced symptoms – cruise ships, elderly care centers, Aboriginal communities, correctional facilities, military barracks, boarding schools or geographically isolated areas with increased risk (eg Kimberley)
Patients tested must be stay isolated at home until they receive their test results.
Large clinics have been established in hospitals including Royal Perth, Sir Charles Gairdner, Fiona Stanley, Joondalup, Armadale, Rockingham and St John of God Midland.
They are open from 8:00 in the morning until 8:00 at night every day.
In regional WA, a clinic operates on the Bunbury Health Campus from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. every day.
For more information, visit Department of Health website.
“My message is if you are unwell and you are worried, there is help and support and you must seek advice. If you have symptoms, you should be tested,” he said.
A total of 3,787 people in the region were declared negative for this disease.
Pandemic can kill 30,000 in WA: Premier
Prime Minister Mark McGowan said the crisis in WA is far from over, even though the number of cases is low.
The government now expects the COVID-19 crisis to peak far at the end of this year, possibly in November. (ABC News: James Carmody)
“This is a marathon, not a fast run,” McGowan said.
“Even though the numbers in WA are promising … we don’t have any reason to be complacent now.”
McGowan played down the prospect of limiting social distance that was being eased due to the virus’s limited spread.
“The advice I give to everyone is to wait for six difficult and long months,” said the Prime Minister.
The WA update comes at the back modeling released by the Federal Government, outlining what might have happened if the rules of social distance were not enforced.
McGowan said modeling showed up to 30,000 Western Australians could die if nothing was done about the virus.
Stay informed of the latest coronavirus outbreaks
Mr Cook said slowing the growth of COVID-19 cases in WA meant the country now expects the crisis to peak far later this year, citing November as a possibility.
“Long and flat curves are much better for society than sharp and high curves,” he said.
The second death of the cruise ship Artania
The latest death from Artania is The second death from a ship in WA in just a few days, with cases of cruises now making up 36 percent of coronavirus infections in the state.
The WA government wants Artania to leave Port of Fremantle immediately.
(AAP: Richard Wainwright)
“It must be very difficult for their families in other parts of the world,” Cook said.
“We express our condolences to all involved.”
Federal Attorney General Christian Porter has defended the Commonwealth’s handling of Artania, which remains docked at Fremantle.
The ship, which has no Australians, is responsible for around 50 cases of the corona virus in WA hotels and hospitals.
The WA government has been nervous about the ship leaving immediately, but Porter said an appropriate compromise had been reached.
“There has been an appropriate balance, in terms of looking after individuals on these ships regardless of their nationality, but also ensuring there is proper quarantine,” he said.
“There will be some tension along the way but this is about finding the right balance.”
McGowan also confirmed that 235 exceptions had been made to allow people to enter Western Australia because the border between states was closed on Sunday night.
As many as 70 people have been allowed into the air and 165 by road, while two people have been sent back.
Three on-the-spot fines of $ 1,000 have been issued over the past few days for people who do not comply with long-distance and social travel rules.
Eight others have been issued by summons and will be handled by the court, with anyone found guilty of facing a fine of up to $ 50,000.
Class 12 exams will likely continue
Premier made no new announcements about whether WA schools would open next semester, or about the fate of the ATAR exam for Year 12 students.
Premier said work was underway to determine how the Class 12 exam would take place. (ABC News: Long Katrin, photo file)
He said every decision had to wait until Thursday, when federal and state education ministers who are meeting today will provide a report to the National Cabinet.
But Mr. McGowan said as far as the WA Government was concerned, the ATAR examination would continue this year.
“It must be a kind of disaster to prevent that from happening,” he said.
“This might mean that later in the year exams, it might mean that the program is reconfigured to reflect shorter periods of time that students might have to study.
“All the work is being done, but ATAR is as far as we are concerned going forward this year.”
Parliament will debate an urgent law next week
Meanwhile, the Government has confirmed plans to recall the State Parliament next week to pass an urgent coronavirus-related law.
MPs have been told that the House of Representatives will sit next Wednesday and the House of Representatives on Thursday, to consider further steps to deal with the impact of COVID-19.
Among the items expected on the agenda is the use of Lotterywest income as a support fund for nonprofit organizations, exceptions to payroll taxes related to payments from JobKeeper scheme and changes to commercial leasing arrangements approved by the national cabinet.
McGowan said commercial rents “needed to be lowered”.
“Commercial tenants are experiencing a decline in income, commercial rent must reflect this,” he said.
“I don’t want to see tenants lose their business and then be sued for their homes just because they can’t pay rent during this period.”
McGowan said the Government also “assessed options” to provide land tax breaks, but no commitments had been made.
The State Parliament will again be subject to strict social distance measures for its position being withdrawn more than half of the lower house of parliament were told to stay away from the assembly last week.
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