World

Perth goes on snap lockdown after first Covid-19 case in 10 months

Quarantine hotel security guard's infection ends Australia's two-week run of no infections

SYDNEY: The Australian city of Perth will begin a snap five-day lockdown after a security guard at a quarantine hotel tested positive for Covid-19, the authorities announced yesterday.

People in the city of two million must stay home until Friday, except for essential work, healthcare, grocery shopping or exercise, with visits to hospitals and nursing homes banned, said Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan.

Reopening of schools today after the summer break will be delayed, with locals permitted to leave their homes only for exercise, medical care, essential work or to buy food.

WEDDINGS CANCELLED

Australia's fourth most populous city had recorded no cases of the virus for 10 months, and Australia just hours earlier had announced 14 days without a locally acquired infection.

Restaurants, cafes and cinemas were ordered shut and weddings have also been cancelled.

"Our model is to deal with it very, very quickly and harshly... so that we can bring it under control and not have community spread of the virus as you have seen in other countries around the world," Mr McGowan said.

The authorities believe the man contracted the virus from a returning traveller quarantining in a hotel in Australia's fourth-biggest city.

The traveller is thought to have picked up a British variant of the virus, which is believed to be more infectious than Covid-19 strains previously detected in Australia.

Genomic testing is under way to determine the precise source of the man's infection, and health officials said he may have visited more than a dozen locations while carrying the virus.

The restrictions are the toughest seen in Perth since the early stages of the pandemic, while masks have been made mandatory for the first time.

Western Australia kept its borders closed for most of last year, cutting itself off from the rest of the nation but allowing the state to enjoy many months of relative normality.

The snap lockdown comes three weeks after similar measures were implemented in the eastern city of Brisbane, prompted by a hotel cleaner contracting the variant.

Those restrictions were quickly lifted when it became clear the virus had not taken hold in the community. - AFP, REUTERS

WORLD