Western Australia should have faith in the ability of NSW to nail down the source of a sole case of coronavirus that has the premier mulling a possible delay to a planned border opening.
“We are talking about a single case,” Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told Nine’s Today Show on Friday (check out the video up top).
“We can’t close down borders … people can’t be forced to cancel their Christmas holidays or reconnecting with family members because of one case.”
Mr Dutton was speaking after Mark McGowan said he would take the weekend to assess his options after the Sydney COVID-19 case was discovered earlier this week.
WA is scheduled to open up to NSW and Victoria from next Tuesday, dropping the 14-day quarantine requirement for travel from those states.
But the timeline is now in doubt after a Sydney hotel quarantine worker contracted the virus, ending the state’s 26-day streak without a single new community case.
Urgent genomic testing is under way to determine how the woman contracted the virus, with an update likely on Friday.
Authorities are concerned the woman, who appears to have caught public transport while symptomatic, may have been infected through another worker.
Depending on the scale of the NSW outbreak and risk of further transmission, WA could also delay reopening its border to neighbouring Victoria.
Having already spoken to NSW counterpart Gladys Berejiklian to offer support with contact tracing, Mr McGowan will await further advice from WA’s chief health officer before deciding over the weekend how to proceed.
“The NSW government is confident they have it under control but we want to see and make sure that the evidence supports that before we make a final decision,” he said.
“Obviously if the chief health officer recommends that we delay opening to NSW, then that is the decision we will make.”
The fresh uncertainty will be difficult to swallow for many Australians who have already had to endure being separated from their loved ones.
Travellers from NSW and Victoria have been blocked from entering WA for almost nine months unless they went into quarantine and, until recently, secured exemptions.
Travel from South Australia remains prohibited unless arrivals meet strict exemption criteria and isolate for 14 days.
“Obviously I’m sympathetic,” Mr McGowan said.
“This has been a very, very trying and difficult year for everyone.”
WA has not had any community transmission of the virus since April.