South West records five-day high in COVID case numbers

Jacinta CantatoreBunbury Herald
If you have symptoms, regular testing with either rapid antigen tests or PCR tests is encouraged. David Swift
Camera IconIf you have symptoms, regular testing with either rapid antigen tests or PCR tests is encouraged. David Swift Credit: News Corp Australia

The South West recorded more than 400 new cases of COVID-19 for five days in a row last week, as case numbers continue to soar across the country.

The region recorded 413 new cases on July 12, 451 new cases on July 13, 452 new cases on July 14, 408 on July 15 and 437 on Saturday, July 16.

This is the highest daily figure recorded for the South West since June 16, when the region reported 392 new cases, bringing the region’s total cases to 2220.

On Sunday, WA Health recorded just 120 new cases in the South West, but these numbers spiked again on Monday to 415 new cases, bringing the region’s total to 2488 active cases.

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WA Health authorities have previously stated testing figures tend to reduce over the weekend and increase during the week, which would account for the dip in positive cases on Sunday.

The third wave is being driven by the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, which made up more than 70 per cent of COVID-19 infections in WA in the past week.

The South West figures come as WA hit a daily record for the number of West Australians in hospital with the virus — 411 people were in hospital with COVID-19 on July 18, with 19 of these in ICU.

High case loads throughout the country prompted Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to bring forward a National Cabinet meeting of State leaders to Saturday — two days ahead of when it was scheduled to go ahead on Monday.

At the meeting the States agreed to implement a consistent message on mask wearing but stopped short of mandating them, Mr Albanese also agreeing to reinstate the $750 a week pandemic leave payment.

Despite comprising a tiny fraction of the State’s population, those who had shunned the vaccine accounted for 27 per cent of COVID hospital admissions, according to the latest data.

On Saturday, WA Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said authorities were considering a “scale down” of the “red alert” processes, in place since March, to ease pressure on hospital staff.

“The Chief Health Officer is of the view that some of the current infection control and testing protocols at hospitals may soon no longer be necessary and we expect to make an announcement regarding the SAR red protocols imminently,” she said.

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