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Coronavirus disaster: Health Minister Roger Cook reveals nine new COVID-19 cases overnight

WA has recorded nine new cases of coronavirus, showing a significant slowdown in the growth rate for the deadly virus in the State.

The new cases include a seven-year-old child and a 77-year-old person. There are five females and four males among the new cases.

All the cases are from the metropolitan area. The State’s COVID-19 tally now sits at 364.

Health Minister Roger Cook said WA was not out of the woods yet but to have single digits at any point in time of the pandemic was amazing.

There are 54 coronavirus patients in hospital with 12 of them in intensive care units.

Seven of the patients in an ICU have come from the Artania cruise ship and two from the Ruby Princess.

“The patients in ICU are very sick, our thoughts go out to them and we wish them the very best,” he said.

Mr Cook said the State Government was creating a “Wuhan” like response and would virtually be creating a whole new hospital by freeing up beds across the public health system.

“At Bentley Hospital we have transferred all of our maternity services out of this hospital and consolidated them at King Edwards,” he said.

“This hospital will create 81 beds able to receive COVID patients.

“Hundreds of beds will come on tap in North Metro and South Metro.”

A further $15 million of clinical equipment has been ordered and is on its way including more than 300 ventilators, 201 humidifiers and 200 ICU beds.

Mr Cook said there were only eight cases where the point of contact for picking the virus was not known.

WA chief health officer Andrew Robertson said in those cases there was believed to be a causal chain and the patients had not necessarily randomly picked it up.

He said overall cases have been dropping over the past three days.

“It’s certainly a very good start and we will continue to do the very effective identification, contact tracing that has gone with that,” he said.

“We will be looking at expanding our testing as of Thursday … that will give us a far better review and overview of what is happening in the community.

“Given the cases have not been growing at all we expect that will just highlight we have this currently … getting to stage where we are able to control and flatten the curve to a degree.

“We have had the people coming off the cruise ships and in more recent days quite a few people coming off aircraft from all around the world and those people are now staying at a number of hotels in the city, we may expect we get some further cases from that group.”

Dr Robertson said now was not the time to be complacent and there could be further ceases and instances of spread in the future.

The chief health officer noted once broader community testing started – which will see people with flu-like symptoms and respiratory issues who have not travelled overseas or had contact with an infected person tested – he did not expect a big jump in coronavirus numbers.

Mr Cook said despite the lower number of positive cases it was not possible for WA to become a COVID-19 free “island” when the virus still existed all around it.

“What we are trying to do is manage the spread of that disease so it doesn’t overwhelm our health systems… (as) you’ve seen in New York and Italy,” he said.

“Ultimately I expect we too will be confronted with difficult numbers and community spread.”

The Department of Health will release COVID-19 “heat maps” in the next 24 hours which will provide a snapshot of where the larger levels of patients with the virus are residing.

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