WA declares NSW an ‘extreme’ risk state under strict Covid-19 border rules

It will soon be even harder for NSW travellers to enter Western Australia, with the eastern state elevated to “extreme risk”.

The strict Covid-19 measure will come into effect from 12.01am on Saturday.

It comes after WA chief health officer Andy Robertson advised the state government that the NSW case numbers were continuing to climb and unlikely to improve in the short-term.

Under the extreme risk category, all travel from NSW will be banned unless an exemption is given — and it is hard to obtain.

Exemptions are restricted to commonwealth and state officials, members of parliament, diplomats, and in specialist or extraordinary circumstances.

mcgowan presser
Camera IconWA Premier Mark McGowan made the announcement via a press release. Colin Murty/The Australian Credit: News Corp Australia

Approved travellers must be double vaccinated if eligible, return a negative PCR test in the 72 hours before departing, undertake hotel quarantine for 14 days at their own expense, and get tested on days one, five and 13.

NSW recorded 1360 new cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Tuesday.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said in a statement that the situation in NSW was very concerning.

“The cases have rapidly risen in the past few days, so we need to do everything we can to keep WA safe while we get WA’s vaccination rate up to 90 per cent and remain free of Covid in the community,” he said.

“The vaccination rate continues to climb and we’re seeing more people heed the health advice and get their third doses.”

Mr McGowan said any WA residents in NSW with an approved G2G Pass should return home immediately.

“Once the reclassification kicks in on Saturday they will not be able to do so, except for the most extraordinary circumstances,” he said.

“As NSW has been at high risk for some time now, many who would have wanted to return to WA for the end of the year would have arrived already to ensure they are undertaking their 14 days of self-quarantine under the high risk rules.”

Victoria is already an extreme risk state, while the ACT and South Australia are classified as medium risk.

Queensland and the Northern Territory are deemed low risk, while Tasmania is considered very low risk.

The WA government will also again halve its international arrivals cap, which is currently at 530, from December 23.

Two cases of the Omicron strain have been confirmed among returned overseas travellers in WA hotel quarantine.

Loaded European truck on motorway in sunset
Camera IconWA is on alert after three truck drivers tested positive for the virus. Credit: News Regional Media

It comes as WA health authorities continue to investigate the potential spread of the virus from three interstate truck drivers.

Two fully vaccinated drivers, who are both aged in their 30s and were travelling together, returned negative rapid antigen tests at the border before entering WA on December 9.

But while transiting through South Australia upon their return to NSW, their PCR tests on December 12 returned a positive result.

“It is possible both men were infectious during the three days that they were in Western Australia,” Health Minister Roger Cook told reporters on Tuesday.

In a separate incident, a truck driver from SA, who is aged in his 20s, has also been diagnosed with the virus.

He and his co-driver arrived in WA on December 9. Both are fully vaccinated and initially tested negative.

They were only in WA for about 24 hours before returning to SA, then were making their way back to WA days later when one of them tested positive. The second driver has so far tested negative.

Authorities have identified 149 casual contacts and seven close contacts in WA.

So far, 24 contacts have tested negative, 38 test results are pending and 94 are still being tested.

The full list of exposure sites can be found here.

WA is planning to reopen its border on February 5.

Source link