- From tomorrow, new COVID protocols will come into effect across WA
- New close contact definition will apply and casual contacts cease
- New test and isolation protocols will begin, reducing isolation to seven days
- PCR testing still recommended, but positive Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) will also be able to be used as diagnostic tool with compulsory online registration system
- Quarantine for approved travellers to be reduced to seven days at suitable premises
- Direct international arrivals can now avoid hotel quarantine, if eligible
As Western Australia begins to experience a high caseload environment, new protocols announced in January will be introduced across the State from Tuesday, February 8.
Based on the latest health advice, considering the high level of Omicron in the community and the number of cases in self-quarantine, the new settings will help manage community transmission and minimise disruption caused by the virus in the community and to the economy.
The high caseload settings previously announced will be implemented from tomorrow:
- New close contact definition;
- New testing and isolation guidelines;
- Specific school and childcare centre close contact protocols;
- Mandatory positive Rapid Antigen Test registration.
In addition, starting from Wednesday, February 9, the following will also be implemented:
- Quarantine for approved international and interstate travellers reduced to seven days;
- Travellers must then wear a mask in indoor and outdoor settings for the seven days after they end their self-quarantine;
- Vaccinated direct international travellers permitted to self-quarantine at a suitable premise, if eligible, with the arrivals cap doubled to 530 travellers per week;
- Mandatory use of G2G NOW will still be required by all arrivals in self-quarantine;
- Unvaccinated international arrivals required to complete 14 days in hotel quarantine.
The implementation of these protocols follows the announcement of new close contact definition and testing and isolation guidelines last month.
Although Rapid Antigen Tests can now be used as a diagnostic tool from tomorrow (February 8), the State Government is encouraging Western Australians to utilise the PCR testing clinics as the priority while clinics can manage the number of PCR tests required.
Under the hard border settings, approved travellers will be required to take a PCR or RAT on Day 1, and then return a negative RAT on Day 7 to end their self-quarantine period. Any household member is also required to self-quarantine and return a negative RAT on Day 7.
Any household member will be classified as a close contact, if the approved traveller tests positive during self-quarantine. This testing regime will be reviewed regularly.
Any travellers, positive cases or asymptomatic close contacts currently in self-quarantine under the previous settings, are able to leave quarantine once they have completed seven days and have returned a negative RAT test. If symptomatic, people need to continue in isolation until symptoms resolve.
Comments attributed to Premier Mark McGowan:
"Western Australia is about to embark on its most challenging phase of the pandemic.
"For two years WA has avoided the worst of the pandemic, but as Omicron begins to spread in our community, it will cause problems and disrupt our unique way of life.
"However, our safe and cautious approach throughout the pandemic has helped put WA in the best possible position to try to manage COVID-19, safely.
"It's so important we continue to drive up third dose vaccinations, to help prevent the loss of life and try to minimise the disruption Omicron will cause in our community and economy.
"Unfortunately, these new protocols are not a sign of the pandemic ending - they signify the real impact of Omicron beginning in Western Australia.
"Like always, together Western Australians will get through this - by following the health advice and benefiting from high levels of vaccination."
Comments attributed to Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson:
"These new settings will help manage community transmission and minimise the disruption caused by COVID-19 in the community and on businesses.
"Today's announcement on new test and isolation protocols, calls on the Western Australian community to continue to play their part in minimising the spread of Omicron.
"Rapid Antigen Tests will be available and used as a diagnostic tool, however, we are still encouraging people to continue to utilise our State-run testing clinics and use PCR tests as required.
"As we move to this new phase of the pandemic, we will continue to follow health advice to keep Western Australians safe."
Premier's office - 6552 5000
Health Minister's office - 6552 5900