Two new local COVID-19 cases recorded in WA, including man who went to Perth hospital

A dozen staff members at a Perth hospital are in isolation after coming into contact with a man infected with COVID-19, one of two new local cases recorded in Western Australia.

Announcing the latest cases, WA Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said one was an unvaccinated man aged in his 50s who had been in quarantine and who was linked to the Cockburn cluster of Omicron cases.

She said the second was a man in his 60s who was also likely linked to the Cockburn cluster, although it was not yet clear how he was infected.

The man has been vaccinated but was not isolating for his whole infectious period, and he attended Fiona Stanley Hospital’s emergency department while unwell.

Two new local COVID-19 cases recorded in WA, including man who went to Perth hospital
Fiona Stanley Hospital workers are isolating after coming into contact with the man. (ABC News: David Weber)

He was not admitted and the staff who treated him were wearing PPE, but several have been deemed contacts.

“I think there is around 12 staff that have been identified as close contacts and they are being tested and isolated,” WA Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said.

The staff are required to isolate for 14 days under current protocols, but Ms Sanderson said they would be assessed on a case-by-case basis to see if they could return to work earlier, provided they test negative for the virus.

Contact tracing ‘not straightforward’

The man in his 60s and three other men he lives with are being placed in quarantine, with further COVID-19 tests and genomic sequencing to be carried out.

Ms Sanderson said the man had not reported respiratory issues or other symptoms related to coronavirus, but had subsequently returned a positive test result.

She said it was believed police had linked the man to an exposure site and information had also been provided by a third party.

A sign on a street pointing to a massage parlour.
Three massage parlours including U Natural Massage in Applecross have been identified as high-risk exposure sites. (ABC News: Rob Koenig-Luck)

The Cockburn cluster has so far been significantly linked to three massage parlours in Perth.

“The contact tracers are working hard to get information from this gentleman. I don’t think it’s been straightforward,” Ms Sanderson said.

“While the outlook is more positive than where we were on Sunday, with community cases like this man in his 60s, we are still not out of the woods.”

Among new exposure sites listed online by WA Health today was the Hit Studio Karaoke Bar on Francis Street in Northbridge.

Anyone who was there between 8pm on Friday night and 2am Saturday morning is directed to get tested immediately and isolate for 14 days.

AMA questions CHO’s absence 

Neither Premier Mark McGowan nor Chief Health Officer Andy Robertson joined the Health Minister at the media conference.

A close up of Andy Robertson at a press conference in front of a blue curtain and Australian flags.
The AMA is concerned the advice of WA’s CHO Andy Robertson is not being followed. (ABC News: Briana Shepherd)

Australian Medical Association (AMA) WA president Mark Duncan-Smith has raised concerns over the absence of Dr Robertson at media updates about COVID-19.

“The AMA WA is calling on the Premier to increase transparency in decision making,” Dr Duncan Smith said.

“We have noticed that the Chief Health Officer has not been at any press conferences for some time now.

“We have concerns that the advice of the Chief Health Officer is either being gagged or is not being followed.”

A man in a black suit speaks at a press conference
Mark Duncan-Smith wants the CHO present at media conferences. (ABC News: James Carmody)

Dr Duncan-Smith said breakdowns in the relationship between senior doctors and politicians in Victoria and New South Wales had led to poor public health outcomes in those states.

“I call on the Premier to have the Chief Health Officer at every press conference,” he said.

“At an absolute minimum to answer questions by the media as to the advice that’s been given and taken, and so that questions can be asked of him regarding the medical advice that he has given.”

No gag, Health Minister says

Dr Duncan-Smith also again called on the government to publish its post-February 5 transition plans as soon as possible.