WA COVID update: Experts warn state could face 60,000 Omicron cases a day if tough restrictions not imposed
Western Australia’s peak medical body warns the state could expect up to 60,000 new Omicron cases a day if tough new restrictions are not imposed, as Perth scrambles to contain its growing COVID cluster.
It comes as Premier Mark McGowan on Monday urged people to continue to get tested amid concerns more Omicron cases were lurking in the community.
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More than two dozen exposure sites are on alert after three local cases were officially included in Monday’s update.
The infections were first revealed at a snap COVID announcement on Sunday, when Mr McGowan re-instated mask wearing indoors in Perth and Peel after 18 new local cases were reported over the past week.
Multiple cases have been linked to U Natural Spa Therapy in the riverside suburb of Applecross, including four people who work there.
At least one of those staff members also worked at a massage parlour in Mt Lawley while infectious.
“We expect there are more cases in the community and we need to track them down,” Mr McGowan said on Monday.
“Please, even if you feel slight symptoms — do not ignore the signs and get tested today.”
View the latest WA Health exposure sites here.
Calls for harsher restrictions
Leading medical professionals are calling for the government to release modelling on what Omicron will look like in WA when the border falls on February 5 and to introduce stricter restrictions.
Australian Medical Association WA president Mark Duncan-Smith warned WA could face up to 60,000 cases per day unless tougher rules are enforced.
Dr Duncan-Smith said on Monday the prediction was based on publicly available Omicron modelling by the South Australian government, which shows SA was headed for a peak of 30,000 to 40,000 daily infections before its government put limits on gatherings.
The state is now anticipating a peak of between 6000 and 10,000 cases, having recorded 3829 infections on Monday.
Dr Duncan-Smith said WA could face a daily peak of between 50,000 and 60,000 new Omicron cases sometime in March or April unless similar rules are introduced.
“I am calling immediately for the premier to move towards increased restrictions,” he said.
“If we introduce restrictions early and adequately, that will reduce to approximately 10,000 new cases per day at that peak.
“WA’s medical system needs to be protected.
“It doesn’t have the capacity to deal with COVID without reducing business as usual.”
The Australian Nursing Federation echoed the call for tougher rules.
State secretary Mark Olson urged the government to impose stronger restrictions than mask wearing, proposing density limits in public venues and a ban on visitors to hospitals and aged care unless for compassionate reasons.
“I’m not advocating a lockdown … but I would look towards South Australia, one of the states along with Tasmania that has managed to flatten the rise in hospitalisations,” Mr Olson said.
“The government needs to establish what the close contact protocol is going to be, we can’t wait any longer.
“Because once we get the close contact protocol, then we can move on to providing rapid antigen tests free to anybody who is designated as a close contact.”
The premier would not confirm when the state’s Omicron modelling would be released, as WA’s “freedom day” looms.
He said conversations were ongoing “within government” and said they were “watching and learning” what worked over east each day to adapt it for WA.
Mr McGowan said modelling would be made public as soon as it is ready in the lead up to February 5.
– With AAP