FREMANTLE: IS IT TOO EARLY TO ENCOURAGE VISITORS ?

COULD FREMANTLE BECOME A VIRUS HOT-SPOT?

On 9th June the premier announced three new COVID 19 cases in the WA. Since then a few more cases have been diagnosed,  taking the current total to 21 confirmed cases. (12th July). These numbers represent the new spike in cases of Covid 19 in WA. 

COUNCIL IS  RAMPING UP CAMPAIGN TO ATTRACT VISITORS

Fremantle has no testing centre for the virus. We also have a very high number of visitors, mostly from the Perth metropolitan area, especially at weekends.  Council are now ramping up their  campaign to attract tourists, highlighted by this weekend’s opening of Fremantle Markets, said to be the biggest attraction in the city.

Covid 19’s ability to mutate, spread rapidly and  efficiently attach to humans, should be cause for concern in Fremantle which could quickly become a hot-spot for an outbreak.

Given the logistics of travelling to a testing centre, the nearest being at Fiona Stanley Hospital, it may be that not a large proportion of Fremantle’s residents will have been tested. Less than 10% of the population of WA have been and logic says only about 3000 of Fremantle’s 30,000 residents may have been.

We also have a high number of homeless people on the streets and have little idea of their issues related to personal hygiene or social contacts. We are currently witnessing an outbreak in Melbourne which has spread exponentially throughout the state following  strict quarantine measures, initially aimed at low income groups in high density housing, failed.

QUARANTINE NOT TOTALLY SUCCESFULL

We know from experience elsewhere in Australia that quarantine and other controls have not been totally successful. Current experience in WA indicates we have been fortunate to control the virus, largely because of  efficient actions implemented by the State Government and possibly the general distribution of a low rise, low density population.

Recent cases in WA, albeit attributed to passenger arrivals who are in quarantine, seem to have arisen since the easing of restrictions, incrementally removed in the past few weeks. General information related to the incubation period for the virus is said to be anywhere between 14 to 28 days. We also know that workers related to quarantine lockdowns have been responsible for infections in the general community in Victoria and news from both Victoria and NSW suggests that easing restrictions may not be wise – the more people working in quarantine situations the greater the chance of the virus reaching the public.

NO TESTING CENTRE CLOSE TO FREMANTLE

A readily accessible testing clinic  should be established in Fremantle, the hospital would be a perfect location.

We  should question whether  it is safe to keep easing restrictions and attracting visitors to Fremantle?  The government have put some dates for easing back but casual observations indicate there is no general  concern among the public for social distancing.  It is important for that to be re-enforced. We know from recent outbreaks it takes one person in contact with a small group to create a rapid spread of the virus.

Testing centres in the Perth metropolitan areas can be located on this link:

<https://pathwest.health.wa.gov.au/COVID-19/Pages/default.aspx>

Roger Garwood, Editor, Fremantle Backchat <editorbackchat@gmail.com>

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