Perth plunged into three-day lockdown over Mercure Hotel cluster

West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has announced Perth and Peel will go into a three-day lockdown, effective from midnight Friday.

The news comes after a COVID-19 cluster was identified at the Mercure Hotel Perth on Wednesday with the virus spreading among quarantining guests in separate rooms.

Premier Mark McGowan announcing the three-day lockdown. Credit:Pete De Kruijff

A mother, her four-year-old daughter and a Victorian man contracted the virus while in the hotel.

The mother and child’s infections were detected on April 16 and five days later were genomically linked to a ‘UK strain’ COVID-positive husband and wife who arrived from India on April 10.

Genomic sequencing is underway to confirm the source of the Victorian man’s infection, which was detected on Friday morning.

Mr McGowan said the 54-year-old — who arrived from China and was in a room across from the couple from India and beside the UK mother and child’s room — completed his two weeks’ quarantine on April 17 and spent five days in the Perth community.

“We now need to assume he was infectious during this five day period,” he said.

A female friend the man was staying with in the Perth suburb of Kardinya tested positive to the virus on Friday through a rapid test. Health authorities are awaiting results of further close contacts.

“We now have two positive cases that have been in our community from April 17,” Mr McGowan said.

“We can’t take any chances with the virus, we just can’t.

“From midnight tonight, people will need to stay in the Perth and Peel regions and won’t be able to leave unless you have an exemption.

“There will be four reasons to leave your house, these are work because you can’t work from home or remotely; shopping for essentials like groceries, medical or healthcare needs … and exercise with a maximum of four people, limited to one hour per day and masks must be worn unless it’s vigorous exercise.

“Masks are mandatory from 6pm tonight.”

Restaurants, cafes and pubs will provide takeaway services only. Weddings and funerals are permitted with a 100 patron limit.

The Fremantle Dockers game against North Melbourne on Saturday will go ahead, but without crowds.

ANZAC Day services have been cancelled for a second year in a row.

The infected man also attended several venues across Perth before flying to Melbourne on Wednesday on a plane with 257 people on board.

Upon landing in Victoria, the Mercure Hotel case, who was asymptomatic, was contacted immediately by WA health authorities who instructed him to isolate and get tested, as he was deemed a close contact of the other positive cases, all on the sixth floor of the hotel.

Following the breach, 17 other guests who had completed their quarantine were identified as having been on the same floor.

Chief Health Officer recommended Mercure Hotel close a week ago

Chief Health Officer Andy Robertson recommended the Mercure Hotel no longer operate as a quarantine facility on April 14, around the same time the cross-corridor infections would have been occurring.

Documents released by the state government late on Thursday revealed ventilation in the 1970s hotel had been identified on April 8 as the riskiest among WA’s 10 quarantine hotels.

An engineer who inspected the facility found the corridors had no independent airflow, with oxygen supply leaking from the adjoining rooms.

“Given the degree of positive pressure, leakage likely between rooms and corridor,” a table summary read.

The Mercure will now become a facility to quarantine seasonal workers from low-risk countries.

More to come

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