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WA to learn extent of COVID-19 outbreak

Test results are set to reveal whether Western Australia has significant community spread of COVID-19 after a visiting backpacker attended nightclubs and restaurants while infectious.

Hundreds of casual contacts are expected to be identified after the unvaccinated 25-year-old man’s infection was picked up on Thursday.

The backpacker, who arrived from Queensland and is originally from France, had felt unwell on Sunday but didn’t get tested until Wednesday.

He is believed to have been infectious for almost a week, unwittingly attending more than a dozen venues across Perth during that time.

His vaccinated girlfriend has tested negative, as have four household close contacts who are also vaccinated. They have all been moved into hotel quarantine.

Residents of Perth and the Peel region were ordered to wear masks at all public indoor venues under an edict that came into effect from 6pm on Thursday.

It will remain until at least December 28 and also applies to people in other parts of the state who have been in Perth or Peel since December 16.

High-risk large public events including music festivals are cancelled during this time and all nightclubs closed.

The mask-wearing rule does not apply to home settings including family Christmas Day gatherings or during vigorous outdoor exercise.

Previous outbreaks had led to lockdowns in Perth and surrounding regions but Premier Mark McGowan said WA’s high level of vaccination meant that could be avoided.

“In terms of casual contacts, we think that will be in the hundreds,” the premier told reporters.

“He’s been to events where there’s been lots of dancing and lots of fun, lots of interactions.”

Close contacts are required to quarantine for two weeks, while casual contacts must isolate until they return a negative test result.

“If they have to isolate over Christmas Day, that’s an unfortunate reality, a sad reality, but that’s the reality of COVID,” Mr McGowan said.

WA plans to reopen its borders from February 5 but the premier has warned that date would become “redundant” if there is significant community spread of the virus.

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