Western Australia Braces for COVID-19 Surge Ahead of Border Reopening

Western Australia Braces for COVID-19 Surge Ahead of Border Reopening

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – As active cases in the state of Western Australia (WA) tip past 2,000, the nation's last COVID-19 stronghold has begun to ponder living with the virus as it plans to open its borders from March 3.

WA recorded 617 new cases in the 24 hours till 8:00 p.m. Wednesday night (1200 GMT). It came after the daily caseload ballooned to 645 cases on Tuesday, almost tripling the 263 cases reported on Monday, Xinhua news agency reported.

Throughout the pandemic, the state has remained relatively unscathed as it has maintained hard borders to the rest of the country. Currently there are 2,272 active cases in the state, near half of the 5,164 total cases recorded since the start of the pandemic.

Speaking to media on Thursday, WA Premier Mark McGowan said case numbers were expected to continue to rise.

"The mathematics are clear. We're not far away from recording over 1,000 new cases per day," he said.

Previously, the state's border reopening date had been pushed back "indefinitely" from Feb. 5 as the premier cited high transmission of the Omicron variant in Australia's eastern states.

But as local transmissions have surged, McGowan has scrapped the state's COVID-zero approach.

"Eventually there comes a point where the border is ineffective, when you get to high numbers within the state," said McGowan when announcing the reopening last Friday.

The state's hard border restrictions are set to be lifted to the rest of the country from March 3, when fully vaccinated arrivals will not be required to quarantine.

McGowan also announced on Thursday a 67 million Australian dollar (about 48 million US dollars) support package to help business through what would be "the next phase of the pandemic" for the state.

"It's going to be a bumpy and uncertain time, especially for small businesses," said McGowan.

As of Feb. 22, 95.8 percent of WA's population aged 12 and above had been vaccinated with both shots. Its booster rate has just tipped 60 percent and is on track to reach 70 percent by March 3.

Related topics
Related topics
Most Visited in Other Media
Top Other Media stories
Top Stories