A West Australian nurse who tested positive to COVID-19 while volunteering in Victoria will be brought home on a charter flight with her six colleagues after completing 14 days quarantine.
Health Minister Roger Cook has confirmed the group will not be required to isolate for an additional two weeks upon returning to WA.
Renee Freeman tested positive on Sunday after working in an aged care home in Melbourne as part of a team of seven WA volunteers.
She has since been isolating in a ‘Hotel for Heroes’ emergency accommodation facility.
Ms Freeman and her colleagues, who tested negative and are isolating in a separate Melbourne hotel, will be brought home on a charter flight as early as next Sunday.
“Staying there is much better than returning to Perth [immediately] where they would need to start quarantine again,” Mr Cook said on Wednesday.
“This will provide the safest and quickest way of getting them back home.”
Mr Cook had previously refused to rule out the prospect of Ms Freeman and her colleagues spending four weeks in quarantine.
His initial response angered the nurses’ union, which claimed the nurses were promised they would be airlifted home if one of them fell sick.
Deputy chief health officer Robyn Lawrence said the prospect of the nurses being airlifted home was discussed at their orientation but they were told it would come down to individual circumstances.
“We need to keep that resource for people who need a medical evacuation and at this point in time, that is not required,” she said.
The charter flight will have a WA crew and will return to Perth immediately after collecting the nurses.
Ms Freeman must be symptom-free for three days before she is considered to have completed her quarantine period.
“She was feeling pretty well this morning so we’re optimistic that she will be cleared,” Ms Lawrence said.
“At this point in time we expect that she will conclude her quarantine at roughly the same time as the others. If that doesn’t occur, we will continue to assess the situation so that Renee gets back to Perth as quickly as possible.”
Ms Freeman will have further tests in WA before she is cleared to return to work.
Australian Nurses Federation state secretary Mark Olson earlier said he was disappointed by the handling of the incident and wanted the nurses brought home.
Premier Mark McGowan conceded the saga had been “traumatic and concerning” for the nurses and their families.
“They have been heroic in what they’ve done, going over to serve their fellow citizens in a difficult environment and they deserve all of our thanks,” he said.
Mr Cook said WA had sent 19 nurses and three support staff to work across three Melbourne aged care homes.
The other two teams were nearing the end of their stints and further volunteers weren’t expected to be needed given the situation in Victoria had improved.
WA recorded no new cases on Wednesday. Three cases remain active.