WA COVID-19 cases rise, Police Minister Paul Papalia warns of ‘likely’ new surge

Western Australia is “likely” to experience a new wave of COVID-19, according to senior state government minister Paul Papalia.

Coronavirus cases are trending up in Western Australia, just a week after emergency powers were revoked to tackle the pandemic in the state.

It comes as parts of the country are seeing a sharp rise in cases.

“You have to remember that in Western Australia we have probably the third highest dose rate in the world…that should help us,” Mr Papalia said.

“But that’s the challenge of COVID, it’s going to change, it’s going to adapt, and we have to respond if necessary.”

COVID cases have increased across the country.(ABC News: Cason Ho)

The latest report from the Department of Health shows 8,023 new cases of coronavirus in the past week – up from 6,874 the previous week – marking a 17% increase.

Hospital cases are also trending higher – from 142 last week to 176 in the latest report.

The third dose vaccination rate of WA is currently 84% for people over 16 years of age.

Cases rise after state of emergency ends

The rise in the number of cases comes a week after the government’s state of emergency powers were canceled and responsibility transferred to the state police commissioner.

When the state of emergency ended, all remaining health orders, such as mandatory vaccinations and mask-wearing in high-risk settings, were removed.

Crowds walking across a narrow bridge surrounded by lush vegetation, a man with a mask.
Masks are no longer mandatory on public transport. (ABC News: Cason Ho)

Although strongly encouraged, following National Cabinet agreement, it is no longer mandatory for people with the virus to self-isolate.

WA Health staff are the only people still required to stay home until symptoms clear if they have tested positive.

Four public PCR testing clinics closed at the end of October, leaving only Joondalup Hospital and Murdoch University’s drive-thru clinic as free options in metropolitan Perth that do not require a referral.

A spike in the number of cases in the east has prompted authorities in Queensland to reintroduce mask-wearing in some settings, while the New South Wales government is urging people to prepare for a surge over the Summer – as Omicron sub-variants make their way through the community.

Asked if health measures were likely to be implemented again in WA, Mr Papalia said the government would continue to make decisions based on the advice of the director of health.

“As we have always done since the pandemic, we will accept Andrew Robertson’s advice,” he said.

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