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Low WA rise suggests virus ‘under control’

Only one new case of coronavirus has been confirmed in Western Australia, suggesting the disease is under control in the state, Health Minister Roger Cook says.

Mr Cook says the latest case is a 60-year-old man in the Goldfields region who had been in close contact with a confirmed case and had been in isolation since April 8.

“We’ve had a number of days now of delightful and encouraging numbers,” he said on Sunday.

“The current numbers suggest we’ve got this virus under control but we can’t be complacent.”

Mr Cook urged the community to redouble social distancing efforts, saying eventual easing of restrictions would be done in small steps to keep a stranglehold on outbreaks and measure the impact of such decisions.

“I think we will come under increasing pressure given that we’ve got great numbers coming through – that’s a great problem to have,” he said.

“The reason why we’ve got these numbers down is because of the co-operation and the commitment of the community, the discipline that everyone has showed.”

WA now has 545 cases, with about 40 per cent linked to cruise ships, while 426 people have recovered.

There are 28 patients in Perth hospitals, including six in intensive care.

Mr Cook announced a three-stage plan to increase ventilator capacity in public hospitals by more than 600 from a baseline of 111, including using private hospital assets.

Only a handful of ventilators are currently being used for coronavirus patients but demand could surge during winter, the peak flu season.

Training health workers to operate in critical care units would be ongoing for months, the minister said.

Seven people have died in the state from COVID-19, including three from the German liner Artania, which set sail from Fremantle on Saturday with 400 crew and 11 passengers on board after being docked at the port for more than three weeks.

A charter flight carrying 58 other people from the vessel left Perth on Sunday morning.

Originally published as Low WA rise suggests virus ‘under control’

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