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Restrictions to remain beyond WA lockdown

Western Australia is likely to remain subject to COVID-19 restrictions beyond the five-day lockdown despite highly-encouraging test results.

After two days of intensive testing, WA is yet to detect any new cases linked to a hotel quarantine security guard who roamed the streets of Perth while infectious.

Metropolitan Perth, the Peel region and South West are set to exit lockdown on schedule at 6pm on Friday if no further cases are detected.

Premier Mark McGowan expects schools which were due to resume this week will return next Monday unless the situation deteriorates.

The government is yet to reveal what restrictions might remain in place beyond the lockdown.

“There might be a range of measures we still have to have in place, just to make sure, over coming weeks,” Mr McGowan said.

“If we get zero cases between now and Friday, my expectation is on Friday night we come out of the severe form of lockdown we’re currently in. But again as we know, this is a very uncertain environment … things change quickly.”

Asked whether WA could expect a similarly drastic response to any future community cases, the premier said caution was appropriate.

“What we know about COVID is you can’t be too careful,” he said.

“Our isolation and our measures have stood us in good stead now for nearly a year.

“This is obviously a significant setback but if we can crush it and kill it now, we can get back onto a good pathway in the future.”

Questions remain unanswered about the breach at the Sheraton Four Points quarantine hotel, including whether the security guard behind the outbreak was wearing a mask when he delivered medication to a sick guest.

Genomic testing has linked the guard’s case to the same highly contagious UK variant present in two recently returned overseas travellers.

He is believed to have delivered medication to one of the travellers who was accommodated on the same floor on which he was working on January 24.

Pressed repeatedly on Tuesday, Health Minister Roger Cook was unable to say whether the guard had been wearing a mask.

He added that hotel security guards were not expected to wear a mask at all times, even while on the same floor as confirmed COVID patients.

Contact tracers have identified 151 close contacts and 68 casual contacts, 104 of whom have returned negative tests.

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