There have been just nine new cases of coronavirus recorded in Western Australia over the past 24 hours.
- WA Health Minister Roger Cook called the result “incredibly encouraging”
- It continues a downward trend in new WA cases over the past few days
- Mr Cook said the state was still “sailing into this storm, not out of it”
The new cases bring the state’s total to 364.
WA’s death toll remains at two.
WA Health Minister Roger Cook labelled the new numbers “incredibly encouraging”, but said it was no time for the state to let its guard down.
“To have single digits at any point in time in terms of the corona pandemic is amazing. To have them at this point in the cycle … is particularly encouraging,” he said.
“But we’re not out of the woods. We are sailing into this storm not out of it.
“We need to continue to be vigilant. We can’t be complacent.”
WA COVID-19 snapshot
- Confirmed cases so far: 422
- Deaths: 3
- Tested negative: 16,022
Mr Cook urged the community to continue following the guidelines in place to help slow the spread of the virus.
“I just emphasise to everyone that we need to make sure that we continue to practise good physical distancing, good personal hygiene and ensure that we listen to medical authorities,” he said.
“And [follow] all the guides from the Government to ensure that we can actually flatten the curve and push this pandemic out as far as possible.”
Seven-year-old child tests positive
All nine new cases are from Perth’s metropolitan area, including five females and four males.
Mr Cook said four of them had travelled from overseas and three were close contacts of those people.
Two of the cases remain under investigation.
The ages of the latest patients range from seven to 77.
“So we have another small child,” Mr Cook said.
“I understand that child is currently isolated with his or her family.”
Mr Cook said there were only eight people out of the total number of diagnosed cases whose infection origin remained unknown.
Seven Artania patients in intensive care
The Minister said 54 COVID-19 patients remained in hospitals across WA, with 12 of them in intensive care units (ICU)— including seven people from the Artania cruise ship and two from the Ruby Princess.
A total of 30 patients from the Artania have now been admitted to Joondalup Health Campus after being transferred from the vessel while it was docked in Fremantle.
Mr Cook said three were in intensive care and 27 were in a stable condition, while another four Artania patients remained in intensive care at Fiona Stanley Hospital.
The two Ruby Princess patients are also being cared for in Joondalup’s ICU.
“The patients in ICU are very sick and our thoughts go out to them,” Mr Cook said.
“We wish them all the very best in their struggles and the challenges that they have.”
The Artania cruise ship remains at Fremantle Port but the Australian Border Force has issued a directive for the ship to leave Australian waters.
“I hope to see it leave as soon as possible, there is no reason why it should remain in Western Australia,” WA Premier Mark McGowan said.
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Regional borders to close from midnight
Of the total number of confirmed cases, 34 are from regional WA.
The State Government’s ban on intrastate travel comes into effect at midnight on Wednesday in an effort to limit the virus’s spread across the state.
From Wednesday, all non-essential travel will be prohibited between the state’s regions.
WA police will set up checkpoints and mobile patrols to ensure people are adhering to the restrictions.
People have been urged to carry employment documentation with them if they travel for work.
The construction and freight industries will continue to operate despite the bans as they have been deemed essential services.
Hundreds of new ventilators, ICU beds ordered
The Government has ordered more than $15 million worth of additional medical equipment to help the health system cope with the pandemic.
The new equipment includes 301 ventilators, 201 humidifiers and 200 ICU beds.
Mr Cook said health authorities were working day and night to ensure the system was prepared.
“This equipment is being sourced from a range of global suppliers and will arrive in batches. The first is due in the coming weeks,” he said.
The Government has also begun what it called a “major capacity building program”, creating hundreds of new beds in public hospitals across the state.
“[That] will enable us to significantly expand our services, commissioning literally hundreds of beds across out hospital system,” Mr Cook said.
“Our system is now actually starting to realise significant capacity and I am very pleased to say that we’ll be able to support all the patients that come forward.”
The Government also wants COVID-19 patients to have access to cutting edge treatments on trial around the world.
It had planned to introduce legislation into Parliament on Tuesday to allow guardians or next of kin to consent to medical research and experimental treatments.
Currently, guardians or next of kin can only make decisions regarding medical treatment, not participation in medical research.
Your questions on coronavirus answered:
- What are the symptoms of COVID-19 and should I worry about my cough or sore throat?
- Who is eligible for free child care?
- Can I get unpaid pandemic leave or annual leave at half-pay if I am self-isolating?
School attendance plummets
Meanwhile, WA Education Minister Sue Ellery said public schools had on average experienced a drop of between 70–90 per cent in attendance this week.
Parents were last week asked to keep children at home if possible, where they could learn from online education resources.
Ms Ellery said the education sector was now working tirelessly to prepare for term two.
“People are working on that very hard now, on establishing essentially a virtual school,” Ms Ellery said.
“I appreciate it’s a bit confronting for parents this week, but I remind them there is access to learning online.
“We are not asking parents to become teacher. We are just asking for their assistance.”
Program launched to help homeless
The WA Government has also introduced a pilot program to help some of Perth’s homeless population, as circumstances meant many could not self-isolate or follow social distancing measures.
A total of 20 people experiencing homelessness will be moved into Perth’s Pan Pacific hotel.
“The State Government recognises that there are a number of cohorts in our community that are more vulnerable to COVID-19,” Community Services Minister Simone McGurk said.
“The Hotels with Heart pilot learns from similar initiatives happening interstate and around the world, including in the United Kingdom, America and Canada.
“With the help of community service organisations, this initiative will take the pressure off the health system in Western Australia and potentially help to flatten the curve as the state fights to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
The program could be scaled up if the trial was deemed a success.
What the experts are saying about coronavirus:
- Cruise ships have been directed to leave Australian waters but enforcing that will prove difficult
- April is a dangerous month for workers, with JobKeeper payments not arriving until May