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Low virus cases may soften WA restrictions

Coronavirus restrictions may be softened in Western Australia once there is evidence of a “sustained period” of low cases, but the health minister has continued to warn against complacency.

WA recorded six new cases overnight, including four from the Artania cruise ship which remains docked in Fremantle, taking the state’s total to 523.

There are now 28 coronavirus patients in Perth hospitals, including 14 in intensive care.

Health minister Roger Cook said if there continued to be “unequivocally great numbers” in WA, adjustments to restrictions could be made to help “reinvigorate or reawaken” the economy without putting the public at risk.

“I think the trigger point is a sustained period of very low numbers, which we’re starting to see emerge now,” he told ABC radio on Monday.

“If we take our foot off the pedal now, we could see a resurgence of the virus and that will be bad for everyone.”

Premier Mark McGowan has repeatedly warned that some restrictions, including border closures and social distancing, would remain in place for several months but has also flagged monthly reviews.

Mr Cook said he still expected the plagued Artania to leave on Saturday.

“Each of the crew members is isolated … we anticipate that as we get to the end of the 14 days (of quarantining), those who have not been exposed to the virus will not get it and they’ll be in a position to then sail the ship away,” he told reporters.

Authorities are continuing to work with airlines to get hundreds of other travellers, who have completed their two weeks of quarantining in WA, back home.

Some managed to fly home on Monday.

Mr Cook also announced eight private pathology labs would soon be used to increase testing, with patients requiring a referral from a doctor.

“We’ve gone through a very successful period of suppression and now we want to go through a period of vigilance,” he said.

“It’s time to actually double our efforts to make sure we consolidate the gains that we’ve made.”

Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said officers had not issued any infringements at beaches during the Easter weekend, but they were investigating a couple of house parties.

A decision on schools will likely be made later this week after the national cabinet meeting.

Asked whether report cards would still be available for term two, WA education minister Sue Ellery said she thought parents would want feedback more than ever, given the disruption that has already occurred.

“While reporting to parents might look different, I anticipate that reporting to parents will indeed be provided,” she told 6PR radio.

Originally published as Low virus cases may soften WA restrictions

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