Roger Cook press conference: NSW truck driver tests who stopped in Kewdale, Perth tests positive to COVID-19

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A truck driver who was in WA for two days last week has tested positive for COVID-19 in NSW, sending a shock wave through the State just days before the AFL grand final.

Health Minister Roger Cook called a snap press conference to announce the positive case this afternoon but hosed down fears the historic footy decider would be impacted, describing the threat to public health as “low risk”.

The driver returned a negative test result in NSW on September 13 before arriving in WA on September 16.

The driver and his colleague then made several stops in regional WA before arriving in Kewdale.

On their return journey they stopped at Chidlow and Southern Cross. They were in WA for less than 48 hours and left the State at 12.30am on September 18.

WATCH THE PRESS CONFERENCE IN THE VIDEO PLAYER AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE

On September 19, the truck driver was again tested in NSW. This morning, NSW Health told WA authorities that the driver had tested positive for COVID-19.

Eight exposure sites have so far been listed on the WA Health website, all petrol stations and truck stops in Balladonia, Coolgardie, Southern Cross, Kewdale and Chidlow visited on September 16 and 17.

Anyone who visited any of the locations at the same time as the infected driver must immediately get tested and quarantine until they receive a negative result.

WA Director of Communicable Disease Control Paul Armstrong said there were also a number of exposure sites in South Australia.

The second driver has so far tested negative. The infected driver had received his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on August 30.

The drivers did not undergo rapid antigen testing on their arrival at the WA border because they had returned negative PCR tests in the days before their arrival.

That’s despite the State Government announcing earlier this month that all interstate truck drivers would undergo rapid antigen testing before crossing the border.

A truck driver who was in Perth for two days last week has tested positive for COVID-19 in NSW.
Camera IconA truck driver who was in Perth for two days last week has tested positive for COVID-19 in NSW. Credit: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Dr Armstrong said truck drivers were only subjected to rapid antigen tests if they could not produce proof of a negative PCR swab from the previous 72 hours.

“Rapid antigen tests take a while to do because a lot of people come in across the border,” Dr Armstrong said.

“They’re nowhere near as accurate or pick up as many people as the PCR test, so they’re not a perfect test by any means.

“So it was a matter of considering the risk mitigation capability of those tests as well as the logistics.”

The infected driver returned a weak positive result which Dr Armstrong said could mean he was either near the beginning or end of his illness.

“Whether he was infected on his way back to NSW or on his way to WA, that’s not really clear yet.”

Besides the second driver, no other close contacts have been identified by contact drivers at this stage although that could change overnight.

On Saturday, Perth’s Optus Stadium will be the stage for an historic AFL grand final between the Melbourne Demons and Western Bulldogs.

WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said authorities did not anticipate at this point in time for there to be any impact on the grand final.

“There is no change that has been planned in respect of the conduct of the game or indeed in any other conditions,” Mr Dawson said.

Mr Dawson said based on the current advice, “everything is going ahead as planned” for Saturday’s premiership decider in front of 60,000 people.

Mr Cook said it was “really encouraging” the second driver had so far tested negative.

He said the biggest cause for concern would be “mystery cases” of the virus being detected in the community, but he was “very confident” the grand final would go-ahead.

“I am confident … particularly given the other driver was negative and we understand their movements and the short time they were in WA, I am very confident,” he said.

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