Western Australia’s chief health officer has seemingly backtracked on his comment that the state could reopen to some jurisdictions, saying the current strict border measures should remain for at least two more weeks.
In his latest advice, Dr Andy Robertson said the COVID-19 situation in Victoria had stalled and remained a concern.
“I am of the current view that the Quarantine (Closing the Border) Directions should remain as currently promulgated, but should be reviewed in two weeks’ time,” Dr Robertson said.
Dr Robertson anticipated it could take up to two months to get the virus under control in Victoria.
“Victoria has now started to ease its lockdown in these areas, and other states and territories are reviewing their border measures with Victoria,” he said.
“But, given the current size of this outbreak, it is anticipated that it may take a further one to two months to get this fully under control.
“These measures are unlikely to be sufficient to prevent importation and community spread, particularly to neighbouring states, with ongoing reports of imported cases in NSW and South Australia.”
Dr Robertson said the trend in case numbers should be reviewed in four weeks, and if cases fell to less than five per day over a five-day average, the exemptions for other jurisdictions should be considered.
It comes after Dr Robertson told a parliamentary committee hearing on Wednesday that WA could open to most jurisdictions – except Victoria and NSW – provided they had adequate border arrangements, given they had gone more than 28 days without community transmission.
“We’re generally satisfied with border arrangements. Many of them, in fact, duplicate ours,” he told reporters after the hearing.
WA Premier Mark McGowan has always insisted the border restrictions are based on the health advice.
But the state opposition has accused Mr McGowan of misleading the public and claims he has been “caught out”.
Liberal MP Zak Kirkup was thrown out of parliament after his verbal attack on Mr McGowan.
“You have been revealed to be morally devoid as the Premier of WA and once again the slimy politician that you actually are,” Mr Zirkup said.
Travellers to WA are currently required to meet special conditions to be granted an exemption and must also undertake quarantine.
Billionaire Clive Palmer has challenged WA’s border closure in court.