Communication fail as WA Police take hours to notify Victorian arrivals of COVID-19 border changes

The advice is also different for anyone who arrives from Victoria from January 1 who must get a test on arrival as well as a day 11 test.


About 16,000 people have come into WA from Victoria since December 21.

Opposition leader Zak Kirkup said he was concerned about WA’s testing capacity and that many recent arrivals from Victoria did not learn about Thursday’s border and quarantine changes until late on New Year’s Eve.

“What needs to come into question here as well is the amount of confusion that existed last night when people were free to walk around the city until 12.01am today without being told exactly what has happened with respect to the changes if they were a returned traveller from Victoria,” he said.

“Some people got an email or a call at 10 or 11 o’clock last night. That is simply not good enough.

“We have the G2G app here in WA. We would hope that our system is better prepared to deal with these outbreaks as they occur and that everyone could get the message as quickly as possible.

“We know for example that yesterday WA Police sent out an email asking people from Victoria here in WA to reply to that email with their accommodation details, their full name and date of birth and when they intended to head back to Victoria.”

Australian Medical Association WA president Andrew Miller said there should be systems in place to allow for seamless mass contact and testing.

“It makes us frustrated at the lack of preparedness, particularly if we do see outbreaks where we’re going to need to be testing not just 16,000 people but hundreds of thousands of people like they are in Sydney,” he said.

“It should be made as easy and streamlined as possible and we can’t help but think this is just another example of the health department finding it hard to implement really good programs.”


“They have not involved private pathology enough in the testing arrangements.”

Advice from the Acting Chief Health Officer Paul Armstrong to the acting premier, released on Thursday afternoon, reveals he did not recommend Victorian arrivals between December 21 and 31 get a test.

“With regards to Victorian travellers who remain in WA after having arrived on or after 21 December 2020, it is recommended that they self-quarantine in suitable premises for a period of 14 days after arrival in WA, undertake a COVID-19 PCR test on day 11, and be released from self-quarantine after 14 days if a negative test result is confirmed,” he wrote.

A state government spokesman said the Liberal Party was fear-mongering and spreading blatant misinformation which was a slap in the face to health workers and police.

“The Liberals’ failure to grasp basic facts shows once again how inexperienced they are and that they are not ready to govern this state,” he said.

“Zak Kirkup and the WA Liberals have today shown their true colours. They have broken their clear commitment to back the Chief Health Officer’s advice.

“The health advice on recent Victorian arrivals was crystal clear, in that there was a requirement to self-quarantine and be tested on day 11.”

Acting Premier Roger Cook said on Thursday the government was still expecting long lines at COVID-19 testing clinics but not the same influx as when WA shut its border to New South Wales.

Mr Cook said the government had learned its lesson from the experience and was spreading out the testing by having people only get checked on day 11 after their arrival.

“Even with a surge of health staff and additional operating hours, it is likely we will see queues at our clinics,” he said.

“If you have recently been in contact with someone from Victoria in WA, you do not need to be tested, but the general rule continues to apply, if you develop any symptoms, get a test.”

Victorian arrivals left in the dark on border change

Melbourne-based activist Sally Rugg was on holidays in her home state of WA and went into isolation as soon as she heard the news of the border closure on Thursday.

She took to Twitter on Friday, however, to highlight the fact she only received a message from police after midnight on New Year’s Eve to notify her officially about the changes.

“WA police didn’t contact us for 10 hrs [sic] after orders made … then sent this email asking for details we already gave on our G2G pass, saying they currently can’t actually access the information on the G2G pass,” Ms Rugg said.

Victoria did not record any new cases overnight but has been on high alert after eight community COVID-19 cases were recorded in the past few days which are believed to be linked to an ongoing outbreak in New South Wales.

Both New South Wales and Victoria are now considered by WA to be of a medium risk for spreading COVID-19. The risk rating means travellers from those two states are can only enter WA if they receive an exemption but must still quarantine for 14 days on arrival.

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DHHS contact tracers failed to notify coronavirus close contact until end of quarantine period

The text message came through from the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) at 12:25pm on August 6.

“Dear Alexander, unless you have been re-exposed to COVID-19 or you are waiting on test results, you are no longer in quarantine.”

The year 12 student and his mother, Anna Perri, were “mortified” — because, they say, they didn’t even know he was supposed to be in quarantine at all.

“It just was a great shock, because it potentially could have put us all at risk,” Ms Perri told ABC Radio Melbourne Mornings.

When Thornbury High School, in Melbourne’s north, was closed in mid-July due to a case of COVID-19, parents were told they would hear from DHHS if their child was required to quarantine.

Mother and son were shocked to receive this text message.(Supplied)

“When we didn’t hear, we believed that we weren’t a close contact, so we went about doing what we normally do under the restrictions,” Ms Perri said.

The family was “shocked and horrified” to learn Alexander was found to be a close contact two weeks after he had been exposed to the virus.

“We should have known immediately so we could take appropriate steps,” Ms Perri said.

“The thought that he could have put me at risk — or other people at risk — was really distressing for him and for me.”

At today’s daily update, Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said contact tracers had been able to get the message out to “virtually 100 per cent” of close contacts within 48 hours.

“When cases are at 50 a day or 50 a week, everyone in the world was doing contact tracing to the nth degree,” Mr Sutton said.

“When you’ve got 300, 400 cases a day, that stretches any system anywhere in the world.

“We are doing much better than a whole bunch of countries that gave up on contact tracing.”

Meanwhile, Sarah, who shares a house with a positive coronavirus case in Glen Iris, called the ABC to say she had also had problems with contact tracers.

“We are now on day 10 of our quarantine and isolation, however only two of [my housemates’] close contacts have been contacted by DHHS,” she told Virginia Trioli.

“Every day I am sitting by the phone waiting to be contacted to get the right information.

“[I have] received no information about how to properly quarantine or anything, other than what I’ve researched myself.”

She said she was “worried and frustrated” by the lack of information.

“Whenever I’ve called the [coronavirus] hotline, I’ve been given different information or been sent in circles with numbers that don’t connect to anywhere.”

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