Destinations

Western Australia slams NT border shut, rolls out new app in preparation for reopening

The Western Australian government has moved the status of the Northern Territory from ‘high risk’ to ‘extreme risk,’ as the western state records its first mystery COVID case since the early days of the pandemic.

This means travel between WA and the NT will not be permitted except under the most exceptional circumstances. 

The high-risk status is also held by every other state and territory in Australia.

WA Premier Mark McGowan commented on the update, saying the state needs to prepare itself for its opening on 5 February.

“We have moved swiftly on Northern Territory, to reduce the risk of more Omicron cases in self-quarantine,” said McGowan.

“Our controlled border remains a vital tool to protect Western Australia as we work to push our vaccination rates as high as possible towards February 5, including third doses and vaccinations for 5 to 11-year-olds.”

The update to border closures comes as a woman becomes WA’s first mystery COVID case since the beginning of the pandemic.

Health officials are scrambling to identify where she contracted the virus and genomic sequencing is now underway to determine whether she had Omicron.

“Based on the most available information from contact tracers, the woman was infectious in the community but did not attend work and there are likely a limited number of potential exposure sites,” premier McGowan said in a statement.

“Exposure sites will be released as soon as possible, once confirmed.”

The mystery case comes after WA health minister Amber-Jade Sanderson declared on Tuesday there was a “strong possibility” Omicron was circulating the state after a West Australian contracted the virus from a Tasmanian traveller and spent up to a week in the community while infectious.

Additionally, in preparation for the border to open and the rise in cases that will bring, the WA government launched the ServiceWA app, to help people access information about COVID.

The app allows people to show proof of vaccination, check-in with SafeWA and access G2G Pass for interstate travel.

Premier McGowan encouraged the WA public to download the app and commended it for its easy to use features.

“The ServiceWA app will be an incredibly important and useful tool for Western Australians as we head into WA’s Safe Transition,” said the WA premier.

“Having the ServiceWA app means you won’t be opening multiple apps or carrying other forms of identification to enter certain venues and events – it’s all in one place.

“I encourage all Western Australians to download ServiceWA and familiarise themselves with its features,” McGowan concluded.


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