Covid outbreak at second WA aged care home

Just days after Western Australia had its first aged care outbreak, a second facility has confirmed cases among its residents.

A coronavirus outbreak at an aged care home in Perth has swelled to 17 cases and a second facility south of the city has recorded two.

Premier Mark McGowan told reporters on Sunday that the outbreak at Juniper’s Cygnet Residential Aged Care home in Bentley – the first at such a facility in Western Australia – had risen to 17.

It began with two cases confirmed on Wednesday.

After his press conference, two cases were confirmed at a second aged care home, The Cove in Mandurah, run by Brightwater.

“Both residents are fully vaccinated (including a booster),” a spokeswoman said in a statement.

“All staff at the Cove and residents are now being tested for Covid-19.

“The health and safety of our clients, our staff and the wider community is our greatest priority as we work with Western Australian Department of Health to contain the spread of the virus.”

Brightwater said it was well prepared for the scenario and had enacted its outbreak management plan, suspending all visits.

Earlier, Mr McGowan said 38 of 68 new cases recorded overnight were acquired locally.

The source of five cases were unknown and were being followed up by contact tracers, he said, and some of the new local cases were infectious in the community.

Mr McGowan once again urged West Australians to get tested, warning “the chances are that there are cases out there we don’t know about, probably in large numbers”.

Just 4395 people had a PCR test at private and public clinics on Saturday.

“They are doing about 15 per cent, 20 per cent of their full capacity so please go and get tested,” Mr McGowan said.

“While the PCR test number may seem relatively low, it is important to remember PCR tests are not the only diagnostic tool that can be used in Western Australia at this point in time.”

Rapid antigen tests only became legal in WA about a month ago.

“Currently the state government has 8.8 million RAT tests in stock and that number is growing each and every day,” Mr McGowan said.

“This coming week, our stocks are expected to hit 11.2 million rapid antigen tests. Based on our current orders we anticipate having more than 100 million RAT tests by the end of April.

“We are currently distributing RAT tests to all public Covid testing clinics, to manage demand and wait times and also to support the testing regime for interstate and international arrivals.”

He said PCR tests were preferred while there was still capacity at testing clinics.

While aged care homes were a commonwealth responsibility, the WA government would assist them with personal protective equipment and RATs, Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said.

“The commonwealth has had issues getting their PPE and RATs across the border, and those aged care homes have not had access to the commonwealth supply,” she said.

“I’ve met with all of the major providers … my message to them and to the department is if you require access to the state supply, we will give you access and we will work it out with the commonwealth afterwards.

“We will not be quibbling on the ground.”

Mr McGowan is yet to advise when WA may fully open up its borders, having abandoned a planned date of February 5 as the Omicron variant was tearing through the rest of the nation.

Originally published as WA’s first aged care outbreak surges to double digits, second facility records cases

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