21 February 2020

Chief Health Officer statement COVID-19 update #6

Current as at 1530hrs WST


As confirmed earlier today, a Western Australian resident, who was a Diamond Princess evacuee and who has tested positive for COVID-19, is being airlifted from the Northern Territory to Western Australia for treatment.

The transfer of patients testing positive to COVID-19 to their respective states or territories was agreed at a Federal level.

The patient, a man in his 70s, is being flown by the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS), and will be transferred to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (SCGH) where he will be assessed and treated. His spouse will also travel with him and be assessed. She will then be appropriately managed either within hospital or in strict home-isolation for 14 days.

The WA public health system manages and treats communicable diseases every day such as influenza, measles, pertussis and pneumococcal infection, and is well-equipped and prepared to deal with such cases.

RFDS, St John Ambulance and SCGH staff involved in the transport and treatment of the patient manage infectious diseases every day, and are equipped with the necessary training, personal protective equipment and resources to ensure they are not at risk. As per standard clinical cleaning procedures, all transport vehicles will also be appropriately sanitised.

The patient will be treated in a negative pressure room, which is a room that prevents any potentially contaminated air from escaping. He will remain in hospital until it is clinically appropriate to release him.

Strict infectious disease control processes are in place across the WA health system, and there is no need for concern from staff, patients and visitors to SCGH or to general members of the public.

Costs associated with the RFDS flight will be initially covered by the Department of Health, with discussions to be held with the Australian Government following the conclusion of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Visit the Department of Health’s website www.health.wa.gov.au/coronavirus  for the most current information on COVID-19 or call the national hotline on 1800 020 080.

Media contact: 9222 4333
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