The state of Western Australia has reported 1,766 new local cases of COVID-19 the day before it reopens to the outside world. The hospital system has been placed on red alert, and Premier Mark McGowan has announced a $72 million support package for impacted businesses.
When Washington prepares to open the border, there are 1,766 new local COVID instances recorded.
Another four cases were found in travellers, bringing the total number of new infections to 1,770.
The majority of cases were detected from 14,545 PCR tests conducted yesterday, while 732 were picked up by self-reported rapid antigen tests (RATs).
It means there are now 6,979 active cases in WA, with 16 in hospital and none in ICU.
While those numbers remain low, WA Chief Health Officer Andy Robertson said it was necessary for hospitals to move to the second-highest level of alert.
Hospitals recognize increased risk
Public hospitals have shifted to a red alert level under WA’s COVID-19 framework for System Alert and Response (SAR) In recognition of the Omicron threat.
The red level means the state is experiencing “widespread transmission” with increasing and high rates of community spread of the virus.
The Premier said a code red was necessary now to prepare for a coming wave of hospitalisations.
“We expect the hospitalisation rate will grow over coming weeks, and that’s why our hospitals need to be prepared,” he said.
In a statement published by the WA Health Department, Dr Robertson said the transition meant health service providers would take further measures to “manage the increased risk of COVID-19 transmission and reduce impacts within hospitals as much as possible”.
“For many larger businesses, payroll tax relief for three months might not be enough to cover the impact of the next four weeks, but I hope it still makes a difference,” the Premier said.
Professional sporting clubs, like the Glory, Lynx, Wildcats and Western Force will also receive a $35,000 rebate per game for venue hire until June 30.
Fees associated with the public transport included in tickets will be waived this month, with clubs only required to pay half of that cost for matches in April.
They will also not have to pay for public transport to matches for this month, and will only have to pay half the cost for matches next month.
Mr McGowan said businesses would be able to apply for the grants from next week, and payments will be processed “as quickly as possible”.
Mr McGowan said funding for event organisers and suppliers had previously depended on events being cancelled, but the scheme was now being reconsidered.
Red alert measures being rolled out in hospitals include:
- Increased use of PPE, including N95 masks
- Extended use of telehealth for outpatient services
- Deferral of non-urgent face-to-face services
- Visits restricted to approved visitors or those with exemptions
- RATs for all patients attending
- RATs for visitors, essential carers, and parents and guardians in high-risk areas or for vulnerable patients
- Voluntary RATs three times a week for staff who regularly work with high-risk patients.