Masks back in WA as Omicron cases grow



Western Australia is bracing for a possible surge in COVID-19 cases as the highly infectious Omicron variant spreads in the community.

Face masks are again being enforced in Perth and the Peel region after 18 new local cases were reported over the past week.

Multiple cases have been linked to U Natural Spa Therapy in the riverside suburb of Applecross, including four people who worked there.

At least one of those staff also worked at a massage parlour in Mt Lawley while infectious.

“In light of the growing number of cases in Western Australia, today we are raising the alarm,” Premier Mark McGowan said on Sunday.

“We now have some community spread of Omicron in Perth. We know it spreads fast and easily.”

Dozens of exposure sites have been listed in recent days, spreading across Perth and the Swan Valley and as far south as Margaret River.

The Applecross massage business is of particular concern because of the low number of people who checked in using the SafeWA app.

Mr McGowan said WA Health was managing 81 confirmed Omicron cases but all were in quarantine.

He said the government would do all it could to contain the outbreak and urged people to get vaccinated ahead of the February 5 border reopening.

“What we’re trying to do is get to February 5 without community spread of the virus and we’ve said that the whole way along,” he said.

“We’re trying to give everyone every opportunity to protect themselves.”

The government has outlined stringent new proof of vaccination requirements but has not revealed how it will define close contacts of COVID-19 cases, or what testing requirements will be in place for frontline health workers.

It is also yet to release any modelling on the likely impact of the Omicron variant.


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