WA records 10 new COVID-19 cases, but testing numbers plunge on Australia Day public holiday

Western Australia has recorded ten new local COVID-19 cases, all linked to the current Omicron outbreak, with a number of clusters across the state.

Eight of the new cases are linked to clusters in the Perth metropolitan area, with the two other new infections close contacts linked to the South West sub-cluster.

All cases are now in quarantine and the list of exposure sites is expected to be updated throughout the afternoon.

WA Health has urged anyone with symptoms in the Wheatbelt to get tested immediately and isolate until they receive a negative result, following yesterday’s report of a confirmed COVID-19 case in Cunderdin.

The state recorded 24 new local infections yesterday, including nine in the Greater Bunbury region in the South West.

Despite this, little more than 5,600 people presented for testing at WA COVID clinics yesterday on the Australia Day public holiday.

That was down from more than 8,300 tests on Tuesday.

WA Health said there were currently 131 confirmed active cases in the state. Of those, it said 17 were in hotel quarantine, 112 in self-quarantine and two were in hospital, one of those in ICU.

The state recorded a further two travel-related cases overnight.

Premier Mark McGowan said none of the new cases were from the Greater Bunbury region, where he said testing numbers had been relatively good.

He said yesterday’s Australia Day public holiday was the likely reason for the overall lower testing figures.

“The numbers went down a little bit yesterday but obviously yesterday was a public holiday, so that’s probably one of the reasons that explains that,” he said.

Mr McGowan also announced that from 6pm tonight, the mask mandate, currently in place for all public indoor venues across Perth, Peel and the South West, would be extended.

“We’re going to extend the mask wearing mandate to the Wheatbelt region and the Great Southern region from 6pm tonight,” he said.

“Obviously we’ve had some cases, or a case at least in the Wheatbelt and the advice from the Chief Health Officer is to extend it.”

The mask rule would also apply to anyone who has been in these regions since January 20 and has travelled to another part of the state.

The Premier said he expects the mask mandate, which also requires secondary students to mask up when school returns next week, will soon cover the whole state.

“The expectation is, in due course in public indoor settings that there’ll be a mask wearing requirement coming into effect over coming days or weeks across the entire state,” he said.

Despite the slowly growing Omicron outbreak in the state, around 100,000 people gathered on the shores of the Swan River to watch the City of Perth’s Australia Day Skyworks last night.

Perth Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas labelled the event a success, despite the number of attendees being significantly down on previous years, when crowds have been as large as 300,000.

“It was a smaller crowd. That was always going to be the way, there’s no doubt about that, and lots of people chose not to be there,” Mr Zempilas told ABC Radio Perth.

“But plenty of people — I think a crowd of around 100,000 people — chose to come masked up. They came later, they enjoyed being able to come later and they enjoyed the freedom of lots of space around them.

“So overall, with everything in the air and everything that went into the lead up to it, I thought it was a great success and a great lesson that events can go on in this climate that we are in at the moment.

“Ultimately, we have to be courageous, but we have to use common sense.”

Masks were made mandatory for the outdoor event, which the state’s Chief Health Officer had advised was safe to hold in the current COVID-19 climate.

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