COVID-19

WA Covid cases surge past expected peak

The spike in infections comes less than one week since restrictions eased in the state.WA Health reported 10,182 new infections to 8pm on Wednesday night – higher than the 10,000 peak predicted – taking the total number of active cases to 46,664.There are now 271 people with Covid-19 in hospital, including nine in intensive care.Six historical deaths were also recorded – three women aged in their 90s, a man aged in his 90s, a woman aged in her 80s and a man aged in his 80s.“Due to patient confidentiality, no further information will be released by the department,” a statement read.When he announced the easing of restrictions, Mr McGowan said WA had reached its peak four weeks earlier and had secured a “soft landing” through the Omicron wave.“It is a soft landing,” he reiterated to reporters on Thursday.“We think it will remain relatively stable but … the numbers will bounce around.”Mr McGowan said the most important figure was the number of people in intensive care, which was “way, way, way less” than what was predicted.“We expected that case numbers would perhaps increase a little bit and they’re relatively flat,” he said.“They’re much less than what was predicted in the modelling some months ago, and the ICU and hospitalisation rates are significantly less.”Mr McGowan also said the state’s free rapid antigen test program meant more people were getting tested.He added that WA’s death rates were the lowest in Australia, while the state’s vaccination rate was the highest in the nation.AMA WA president Mark Duncan-Smith told reporters that the spike in cases was a result of easing restrictions when the pandemic was in the plateau phase.“WA’s PCR positivity rate is 30 per cent, indicating that there is a lot more Covid out there than what we know about,” he said.“I think that there is a degree of complacency out there. This is a stark reminder to both the WA government and the people of WA that the Covid pandemic is not over.“We are at a new peak and this indicates that we’re in the worst position for the caseload numbers that we have been so far in this pandemic.”Dr Duncan-Smith said he was particularly concerned about the Kimberley region and urged people across WA to voluntarily wear masks indoors, adding it reduced people’s risk of catching the virus by about 20 per cent.“People who wear masks indoors should be applauded,” he said.Dr Duncan-Smith said if hospital numbers hit 350, it would cause a significant strain on the hospital system and restrictions should then be reintroduced. Masks are no longer mandatory in WA except for people aged 12 and older in high-risk settings.They include hospitals, residential aged care, disability services facilities, correctional facilities, the airport, on public transport, in rideshare and taxi services, and other passenger transport.Masks are encouraged where physical distancing is not possible.Asymptomatic close contacts are also no longer required to isolate for seven days if they undertake daily rapid antigen tests, wear a mask outside the home, work from home if possible and avoid high-risk settings.The 2sq m rule and capacity limits have been scrapped from all venues, with proof of vaccination only required in hospitals and residential aged care facilities.The G2G Pass requirement for arrivals has also been removed.

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