WA backpacker-COVID cluster grows by two

Aaron Bunch |

Western Australia has detected two new COVID-19 cases which are likely to be linked to an infected French backpacker who travelled from Queensland.

Authorities are also warning Omicron could be in the Perth community after a hotel quarantine site security guard tested positive for the virus a day ago.

A 20-year old unvaccinated backpacker and his 24-year-old female housemate are the latest Delta cases

The pair are presumed to be linked to the current outbreak but this has not been confirmed, Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson told reporters on Monday.

“They are believed to have been infectious in the community and as such, new exposure sites will appear,” she said.

The new cases are being moved to hotel quarantine.

This would take the total number of cases linked to the so-called “backpacker outbreak” to 18, including the unvaccinated 25-year-old male index case, if the duo are found to be linked.

Many of the cases went to a busy Perth dance party with about 400 other people on December 19, many from the traveller community.

More than 779 close contacts have been identified with 23 yet to be tested, four of whom were at the Mess Hall venue.

It comes as more than a dozen close contacts linked to an infected hotel quarantine site security guard are identified.

The guard tested positive on Sunday with 11 contacts returning negative results, two pending and one person yet to be tested.

His case is not linked to the backpacker cluster.

“We have to expect this could be the first line of Omicron in our community,” Ms Sanderson said.

Health authorities tested 3423 people for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.

Meanwhile, WA moved Tasmania and the ACT from medium-risk to high-risk classification under its COVID-19 border rules.

This means anyone entering WA from the two states must be fully vaccinated, take a PCR test within 24 hours of arrival and take another test on day 12 of their 14-day self-isolation.

They must also use the G2G Now app while in quarantine.