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Health Minister Roger Cook confirms WA ‘free from coronavirus’ as State Government to release guidelines ahead of public school year

The four possible coronavirus infections under investigation in WA have returned negative results, according to WA Health Minister Roger Cook.

“At the moment, Western Australia is in the clear when it comes to the novel coronavirus,” he said on Tuesday afternoon.

“I’m in a position to confirm that all the current cases which are being investigated have returned a negative result. That’s a great relief to everyone involved and obviously the patients, clinicians and their families.”

While Mr Cook said it was a “very good situation” he said the departments would continue to explore further measures to prevent the spread of the virus, including the WA Education Department updating its coronavirus guidelines.

Health Minister Roger Cook.Health Minister Roger Cook.
Camera IconHealth Minister Roger Cook. Credit: Daniel Wilkins/The West Australian

“We are asking parents of children that have travelled from China or Hong Kong in the last 14 days to keep their kids away from school until those 14 days have expired,” Mr Cook said.

The announcement follows the similar measures put in place by the New South Wales government today, as students in the state were expected to return for the first day of school.

“We believe it’s a necessary and appropriate precaution to take in relation to the novel coronavirus,” Mr Cook said.

“I stress that we stand by the medical advice which is being provided both by the Commonwealth and by the State Government and that the remains unchanged but we think that this extra precaution will be a good way to go prior to the school year just to make sure that we are taking these extra steps.

“We’ll be looking at what other measures we need to undertake to make sure that we keep families and their kids safe from this potentially deadly disease.”

Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery along with Department of Education Director General Lisa Rodgers and Health Minister Roger Cook.Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery along with Department of Education Director General Lisa Rodgers and Health Minister Roger Cook.
Camera IconEducation and Training Minister Sue Ellery along with Department of Education Director General Lisa Rodgers and Health Minister Roger Cook. Credit: Daniel Wilkins/The West Australian

On Tuesday afternoon, a coronavirus hotline had been set up for WA. People who believe they have coronavirus, been in contact with someone who may be affected or have general enquiries can call 1800 300 243.

A WA laboratory will also be established this week to test any possible coronavirus infections.

Currently, samples have had to be transferred to the eastern states. Mr Cook said the move would quicken the process of testing.

Several WA private schools had already advised parents to quarantine their children if they have recently visited affected areas in China.

Education Minister Sue Ellery said the government would continue to follow the advise of the health department and that WA was fortunate there was still a week until school returned.

“We continue today, and we will going forward, follow the advice of the Department of Health. We noted the announcement made by New South Wales,” she said.

“This updated guideline does no harm, in fact should provide people with a greater sense of comfort.

“We are asking West Australian parents to cooperate with us to ensure that if their child has travelled to China they keep that child at home, away from school for a 14 day period.”

Ms Ellery said the request only extended to children who had been to China or Hong Kong in the past 14 days, not those whose parents had.

“This policy is about the child themselves [and] whether or not they have been in China,” she said.

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