March 20, 2020 14:27:44

A woman in her 60s is in a critical but stable condition in St John of God Hospital at Midland after contracting coronavirus, authorities say.

Key points:

  • WA yesterday recorded its biggest 24-hour spike in COVID-19 cases
  • The Sculptures by the Sea event at Cottesloe has shut down
  • Universities are halting face-fo-face classes and moving to online learning

A spokesperson for the hospital said her condition became critical late yesterday.

WA Health could not confirm if the woman was one of the 17 new cases confirmed yesterday or if she had tested positive earlier.

The Department for Health said it was speaking to people who had been in contact with the woman.

WA has so far confirmed 52 cases of coronavirus, including one death.

Yesterday Health Minister Roger Cook confirmed the first cases of community transmission of COVID-19 in the state amid the biggest 24-hour spike in cases in WA.

The first regional case of COVID-19 has also been recorded in the state’s South-West.

We have enough test kits: Minister

Mr Cook said he was confident there were enough COVID-19 testing kits for the state now the community transmission phase had begun.

There had been concerns expressed by senior health authorities last week that there was not enough of the chemical reagent needed for testing.

But Mr Cook told Perth’s 6PR Radio more reagent would be supplied under a national agreement and WA had also independently found more stocks.

He also said a new generation of testing kits was entering the market.

“These are what are known as point-of-care kits and will be particularly useful for us in the regional settings, so we can get quick diagnosis and therefore be able to treat those patients in the appropriate environment,” Mr Cook said.

But the Minister did not anticipate WA would start using drive-through COVID-19 testing clinics.

He said he had asked the Communicable Diseases Network of Australia how testing should adapt to community transmission.

“We’re not anticipating having to use drive-through clinics at this stage,” he said.

“They are very cumbersome, although highly convenient for the person going to that clinic. But we know we can test patients safely in our COVID clinics.”

Who should present to COVID-19 clinics?

  • Those who are experiencing flu-like symptoms — like sore throat, cough, fever — AND
  • Have returned from overseas in the past 14 days or
  • Have been in confirmed or suspected contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case

Patients who are tested should remain isolated at home until they receive their test results.
Clinics have been set up at Royal Perth, Sir Charles Gairdner and Fiona Stanley Hospitals and will be open from 8:00am–8:00pm daily.
In regional WA, a clinic is operating at Bunbury Health Campus from 10:00am–4:00pm daily.
In other regional areas, people should go to a public hospital, health service or remote health clinic. They should call ahead.
For more information go to the Health Department website.

Sculptures by the Sea closed

Cottesloe’s Sculpture by the Sea exhibition has announced it has closed immediately after the confirmation of community transmission of COVID-19 in WA yesterday.

It is the first time the popular event has ever finished early.

“Like everyone, we were hoping that Perth was going to avoid this stage [of community transmission] and unfortunately that changed,” founding director David Handley said.

This weekend was set to be the final weekend, which Mr Handley said usually attracted more than 20,000 people.

Mr Handley said the State Government advice until now was that the event was safe because it was spread out and people only moved around it in small groups.

Some of the sculptures will remain at Cottesloe until Monday, when organisers will begin removing them.

Curtin University halts classes

Perth’s Curtin University has paused all classes next week while the university transitions online to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19.

The university previously announced it would move all classes online by today, but has since announced a week-long break.

Students will begin online courses from Monday 30 March, but can still access on-campus services.

Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreak

Curtin vice-chancellor Professor Deborah Terry said the decision was to help staff and students adjust to what would be the “new-normal”.

In a statement, Professor Terry said there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on campus.

The University of Western Australia will also move to online teaching from Monday, while Edith Cowan University has transitioned only larger lectures to online and kept all other classes on campus as normal.










First posted

March 20, 2020 13:24:43

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