Masks reintroduced as WA records five new local COVID-19 cases amid Omicron spread in Perth – ABC News

January 16, 2022
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Western Australia has reintroduced a mask mandate for all indoor public areas in Perth and Peel after Premier Mark McGowan revealed three new local COVID-19 cases had been recorded in addition to two earlier-announced cases, bringing the total number to five.
Masks will be required from 6:00pm in all indoor public places in Perth and the Peel region, but will not be required to be worn in homes.
Anyone who has been in Perth or the Peel region from January 6 will be required to wear a mask indoors if they have travelled to another region.
Two of the five cases are linked to the U Natural Spa Therapy business in Applecross, a previously-announced exposure site. 
With the Omicron variant spreading fast around the world and set to become the dominant COVID-19 strain in the UK, there is one question everyone wants to know.
"It's clear the number of cases with the Omicron variant is growing and so is the risk to the community," Mr McGowan said.
"I can confirm as of 1:00pm today, another three local cases have already been reported [bringing the total to five].
"Two of these local cases have also been linked to U Natural Spa Therapy business in Applecross."
Currently, there are 81 known active cases of Omicron in WA.
U Natural Spa Therapy had already been designated as a "significant exposure risk" by WA Health on Saturday after it was visited by multiple COVID cases.
"This is a site of significant concern," Mr McGowan said.
"I implore anyone who has visited this business between the 7th and 13th of January to please come forward and get tested immediately," Mr McGowan said.
Another site of concern is New U Massage in Mount Lawley, with the potential exposure date being Monday, January 10. 
The total number of active COVID cases in Western Australia is 112, with 34 in hotel quarantine and 78 in self-quarantine. 
"We have to assume there are more cases of Omicron in the community," Mr McGowan said.
On Saturday, WA Health had called on those who had attended U Natural Spa Therapy and New U Massage to be tested for COVID immediately.
Anyone in Perth and the Peel region who is feeling unwell has now been asked to get tested, as exposure sites were still being identified and updated.
"We need everyone in Perth and Peel to take this situation very seriously," Mr McGowan said.
"We now have some community spread of Omicron in Perth.
"We know it spreads fast and easily — in the past seven days, we have now recorded a total of 18 local cases." 
Those still unvaccinated have been asked to get their vaccination as soon as possible.
The Premier said it was a mistake to adopt a 'let it rip' strategy and other measures were under consideration.
Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said the chief health officer was seriously concerned that the outbreak could not be controlled.
"Just 11 people used SafeWA to check in at the business at the centre of this outbreak," she said.
"We know many more people have attended this business since January 6 and we urge you to come forward for testing immediately.
"We have fought off this virus in Western Australia so far but we know that Omicron is the real game-changer."
The minister urged people to use ServiceWA or SafeWA to check in during their movements and to wash their hands often.
Mr McGowan also said two ships were on their way to WA with possible COVID cases on board.
One vessel was off Port Hedland and the other was on its way to Fremantle.
The British Chief, a tanker near Port Hedland, has reported five positive cases among crew members, while bulk carrier MV La Stella, bound for Fremantle, has reported six cases.
WA Police and WA Health were monitoring both situations and in the absence of serious illness, the positive cases were expected to be managed on board.
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