Long lockdowns in Western Australia would be ‘unavoidable’ even when 90 per cent of the population is fully-vaccinated, Premier Mark McGowan claims.
Modelling presented to the WA Government predicts 2,000 new cases of coronavirus a day if the border was to open at that point and would require a six-week lockdown to control.
University of Western Australia professor George Milne presented the grim prediction to Mr McGowan two weeks ago to aid with reopening plans.
Long lockdowns in Western Australia would be ‘unavoidable’ even when 90 per cent of the population is fully-vaccinated, new modelling claims
WA faces being cut off from the rest of the country long after international travel returns to other states with Premier Mark McGowan refusing to open up in the lead-up to Christmas
He claimed that in the five months after opening the border to Australia and the rest of the world, WA would suffer 300,000 new Covid cases, 1,750 hospitalisations and 255 deaths.
The modelling estimates each person who tested positive for Covid-19 would infect an additional six people – far higher than the 1.3 in NSW’s outbreak.
Professor Milne told The Sydney Morning Herald the contagious Delta variant cannot be fought with vaccination rates alone in efforts to contain future outbreaks.
‘The simple answer is that we will have to have an early lockdown at 80 or 90 per cent coverage to prevent a burst of cases,’ he said.
He said residents in WA would be trapped in something similar to Victoria’s stage three lockdown at a 90 per cent vaccination rate.
In stage three restrictions, people who can are encouraged to work from home with residents only allowed to leave their house for essential reasons.
New modelling presented to West Australian health officials has predicted a six-week lockdown and 2000 daily cases if the state reopened at 90 per cent vaccination rates (pictured, a woman receives a dose of Pfizer in Perth)
The modelling was presented to the WA state government a fortnight ago as part of the state’s plan on living alongside coronavirus (pictured, a Perth couple walking their dog in June)
Cafes and restaurants are only permitted to serve takeaway, with gyms, retail stores, pubs and entertainment complexes forced to shut up shop.
Professor Milne said keeping schools open would prolong the lockdown to about six weeks before the outbreak was under control enough to ease restrictions.
The professor admitted he didn’t believe the state will ever hit a 90 per cent vaccination rate but said the more doses in arms, the milder the lockdown.
Such predictions imply WA would never safely be able to open its borders, and appear to be fueling Mr McGowan’s refusal to open with the rest of the country.
Professor Milne’s modelling is in stark contrast to that of the Doherty Institute, which underpins the national reopening plan.
The Doherty Institute advised lifting lockdowns with hundreds of daily cases at 70 per cent vaccination wouldn’t make a drastic change to epidemiological modelling.
WA Premier Mark McGowan (pictured) has declared the domestic border may remain shut until April 2022, meaning West Australians could remain isolated for another seven months
The report also suggested that with high vaccination rates there would be minimal impact on children and teens, but the jab is now being rolled out to children aged over 12 anyway.
Number-crunchers at the institute also say there was no need to wait for the immunity lag time of two weeks to kick in as it was already factored into the data.
In July, National Cabinet agreed to set second dose thresholds of 70 and 80 per cent to significantly reduce the prospect of lockdowns.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian promised Sydneysiders the state would begin to reopen at 70 per cent double-dosed, with even fewer restrictions at 80 per cent that would include domestic and international travel.
However, Mr McGowan refused to budge on opening his border to the rest of the nation until well after Christmas.
He has since declared the domestic border may remain shut until April 2022, meaning Western Australians could remain isolated for another seven months.
Western Australia is currently lagging behind the rest of the country in the vaccine rollout with about 38.2 per cent of residents fully-jabbed (pictured, healthcare workers prepare vaccines)
Mr McGowan said he will wait until his state reaches between 85 and 90 per cent vaccination rates to open up, but has not said when that target will be reached.
The premier condemned ‘self-absorbed’ Sydneysiders who were out enjoying the sun over the weekend and double-downed on threats to keep his border shut.
‘There’s this headlong rush about these things in Sydney and Melbourne, but that’s because Sydney and Melbourne are in lockdown,’ Mr McGowan said on Sunday.
‘And that’s because so many people in Sydney don’t think there’s an Australia outside of Sydney.’
WA – along with Queensland – is lagging behind the rest of the country in the vaccine rollout with about 38.2 per cent of residents fully immunised.
What are the four phases of opening up?
A. Vaccinate, prepare and pilot (from July 14)
Arrival caps cut in half to 3,035 a week; early, stringent and short lockdowns if outbreaks occur; trials of seven-day home quarantine for vaccinated arrivals in South Australia; medicare vaccination certificates available on apps like apple wallet
B. Post vaccination phase (when 70 per cent are jabbed, expected late this year)
Lockdowns ‘less likely but possible’; vaccinated people face reduced restrictions; caps for unvaccinated arrivals increased; a larger cap for vaccinated arrivals with ‘reduced quarantine requirements’; capped entry for students and economic visa holders
C. Consolidation phase (when 80 per cent are jabbed, time not announced)
Lifting all restrictions for outbound travel for vaccinated travellers; no caps for vaccinated arrivals; increased caps for students and visa holders; more travel bubbles being set up with countries such as Singapore; booster shots rolled out
D. Final phase (percentage or time not announced)
Uncapped arrivals for vaccinated people without any quarantine and uncapped arrivals for unvaccinated people with testing before departure and on arrival