WA imposes tighter testing for truckies in NSW and Vic
Truck drivers from extreme or high-risk states will need a negative COVID-19 test within three days of arriving at the border of Western Australia from next week.
Premier Mark McGowan announced the change on Friday, declaring the risk posed by truck drivers from COVID-hit NSW and Victoria was “just too great”.
“All truckies from high or extreme risk jurisdictions who want to enter WA will have to have returned a negative PCR test undertaken within the prior three days,” he told reporters on Friday.
Those without a swab result by the time they reach WA must get a rapid antigen test at border checkpoints at Eucla in South Australia and Kununurra in the Northern Territory.
About 10,000 rapid tests are being sent to the sites in preparation for the change.
It follows a COVID scare in the state last week, when two infected truck drivers travelled through NSW and returned positive tests in Perth.
All of their 25 close contacts have returned negative results as part of day-five testing.
McGowan said he did not expect the change would affect essential supplies into WA, which has sealed its borders to NSW, Victoria and the ACT.
WA has maintained tough border restrictions in a bid to eliminate the virus, and trails the rest of the nation in vaccination rates.
While other states are talking about freeing up travel and people movement at a 70 per cent full vaccination rate, the WA government is less enthusiastic.
McGowan said Friday’s national cabinet talks confirmed his view not to set a date for reopening the border until WA reached 80 per cent double-dose coverage.
“The idea we bring down the borders and we infected our citizens when we get to 70 per cent is madness – it’s madness,” he said.
“The national plan needs to be amended to reflect that reality.”
Asked if WA needed to rethink its stance given NSW will reopen internationally before it, he shot back: “If anyone wants to go in the direction of NSW they’ve got rocks in their head.”
It comes after federal health department boss Brendan Murphy told a Senate hearing on Friday there was “a lot more planning to be done yet” in terms of preparing WA for an outbreak.
He said neither federal nor WA health officials would be “confident in opening the situation” until they were collectively confident the right plans were in place.
WA officials were working with the national cabinet on “what they believe a ‘living with COVID environment’ could be”, Prof Murphy said.
“We haven’t landed that yet but I’m sure we will.”
He said pressure on the WA hospital system was not COVID-related, but rather was “general hospital demand pressures”.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the federal government had confidence in all of the states and territories’ preparedness.
Minister Hunt said since February 2020 there had been a national program to secure more ventilators, protective equipment and to train health personnel, as well as preparing the private health system as a backup.
But he said there was “always the capacity for additional investment at state level”.
WITH NEWS FROM AAP