Why WA won’t scrap mask mandate

Premier Mark McGowan announced on Wednesday that a series of restrictions would ease just before Easter – including scrapping check-ins at most places and ditching 500-person capacity limits at venues and caps on private gatherings.Advice from chief health officer Andy Robertson, which guided Mr McGowan’s decision to ease restrictions, was published on Thursday.“WA has now passed the peak of the current Covid-19 outbreak,” Dr Robertson wrote.“WA reached its peak of Covid cases two weeks ago, on 29 March 2022, when the daily case number reached 9754 new cases.” But Dr Robertson recommended masks remain mandatory indoors, despite mounting pressure to ease off the restriction.“The mask mandate has been very effective. It really has decreased the spread,” he told ABC radio on Thursday.“We continue to review the mask mandates going forward … we’ll be keen to see the numbers continue to fall over the next couple of weeks before we look at removing them.”It comes as WA Health reported 8144 new infections overnight, up from 7426 the previous day, taking the total number of active cases to 40,539.There are now 200 people with Covid-19 in hospital – down from 215 the previous day — including five in intensive care.Two historical deaths were also recorded – a woman aged in her 90s and a woman aged in her 60s.“Due to patient confidentiality, no further information will be released by the department on these deaths,” a statement read on Thursday.Among the new cases, 3373 were confirmed via PCR tests, while the remaining 4771 were identified from self-reported positive rapid antigen tests.A total of 12,690 PCR tests were conducted on Wednesday and WA Health said public testing clinics would remain open over the Easter long weekend.WA has a third dose vaccination rate of 77.7 per cent for people aged 16 and over.The state has now adopted the national definition of close contacts.It means only household members and intimate partners of positive cases will be forced to isolate, as well as those who have spent at least four hours of cumulative contact, without wearing a mask, in a home with a positive case.

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