COVID in WA: Active cases smash through 90,000 barrier for first time

Headshot of Josh Zimmerman
Josh ZimmermanThe West Australian
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Many people wore masks while turning out to vote.
Camera IconMany people wore masks while turning out to vote. Credit: Jackson Flindell/The West Australian

WA reported a decline in COVID cases for a fourth consecutive day as hundreds of thousands of West Australians flooded polling booths around the State on Saturday.

There were 14,245 cases recorded, with the number of people in hospital with COVID dipped slightly to 301, although there was one additional patient in intensive care taking the total to 12.

One death was reported, a man in his 90s who passed away on May 18.

The number of active cases in the State smashed through the 90,000 barrier for the first time – reaching 91,162 in the latest reporting.

With such high levels of the virus circulating the community many West Australians turning out to vote opted to wear masks, even though the face coverings are no longer compulsory.

Some schools also ditched the traditional sausage sizzle and cake stall over COVID fears.

More than seven million Australians had already voted prior to Saturday – shattering the previous record – as many opted to avoid crowded schools or other polling locations.

In some electorates – including Pearce (51.5 per cent) and Canning (55.9 per cent) – more than half of eligible voters had either pre-polled or voted by post ahead of May 21.

There were 13,894 PCR tests conducted on Friday, of which 4905 detected infections – meaning a positivity rate of 35 per cent.

The State’s third dose vaccination rate now stands at 81.2 per cent, a “world-leading” result Premier Mark McGowan has credited with the low number of people requiring treatment in hospital.

On Friday the Premier drew sharp criticism from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners after questioning whether doctors diverting patients with respiratory illnesses away from their practices were in breach of the Hippocratic Oath.

Mr McGowan said GPs turning away patients was increasing pressure on WA’s struggling hospitals, which are grappling with thousands of COVID-related absentees.

“That’s driving more people into our hospitals,” he said.

“I would request that GPs don’t do that. I just ask: don’t do that.

“Isn’t the Hippocratic Oath that you’re supposed to allow anyone to come in and receive medical attention?”

RACGP president Karen Price said the Premier’s timing “could not be worse”.

“This really looks like a case of kicking GPs and general practice teams when they are down,” Dr Price said

“It is completely unfair and unacceptable to blame an overburdened hospital system on GPs and general practice teams.

“In fact, it is our preventive care, early intervention, and sub-acute care that results in reduced numbers of people presenting to emergency departments.

Penned by Greek physician Hippocrates more than 2000 years ago, the Hippocratic Oath lays out ethical principles for doctors to follow including “do no harm”.

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