WA’s COVID-infected truck drivers unlikely to have infected anyone along journey: Premier

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The 22 identified contacts of two COVID-positive truck drivers who entered WA from New South Wales last week have all tested negative for the virus.

The drivers, aged 23 and 29, crossed the Eucla border into WA on Thursday before their surveillance tests from the day before came back positive on Friday morning.

The infected men entered WA through the Eucla border. Credit:Nine News Perth

The men had minimal interactions with the public, only stopping at fuel stations before arriving at a Kewdale warehouse in Perth and sleeping in their cabin.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said there was a low risk the pair had infected anyone along their journey.

“We expect to test [the close contacts] again over the coming days to see where they’re at but they’re all in isolation or being monitored by our health authorities,” he said on Monday.

“We’re advised by our chief health officer that it’s a very low risk situation and the system we put in place worked in relation to those two truck drivers.

“They did the right thing, the truck drivers did nothing wrong, they work hard and do a difficult job and I’m very appreciative of the role they perform”.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said all of the men’s identified contacts had tested negative. Credit:Getty Images

Under WA laws, truck drivers arriving into the state from a COVID hotspot must undergo a health screening and show proof of a negative COVID test within the past five days, or be tested within two days of arriving.

However Western Roads Federation chief executive Cam Dumesny said test results needed to be returned quicker and rapid antigen tests introduced at the border.

“What’s happened with these cases over the weekend out of New South Wales is they did the right thing, they were tested but it was three days later by which stage they’re in WA having gone through SA before they got their test results,” he said.

“That’s just not good enough, that’s the biggest weakness in the system.”

Mr Dumesny said the union was pushing for two 24-hour testing and vaccination hubs to be set up at the entry points to the western side of the country – one at Port Augusta in South Australia and the other at Three Ways in the Northern Territory.

“If you had a 24-hour testing centre at both locations which were resourced to turn around the test results in a couple of hours then that would go a long way to mitigating the risk because any driver can be held up if they’re positive,” he said.

“Currently they have to wait three days and they’re well and truly into WA by then.”

Both infected truck drivers are currently in quarantine at The Westin Hotel. One is an owner-operator.

Mr Dumesny said there needed to be incentives or a digital communication platform introduced to encourage smaller operators to swap their trailers with local drivers at interstate borders – a practice most bigger logistical companies such as Woolworths, are already doing.

Mr McGowan said he supported logistic workers being prioritised for the COVID vaccine, and hinted the jab may soon become mandatory for the industry.

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