A Victorian man who unwittingly contracted COVID-19 in hotel quarantine was in the community throughout Perth for five days before he caught a flight to Melbourne.
Victoria’s 55-day streak of no locally acquired COVID-19 cases came to end with the man’s diagnosis.
The 54-year-old man, who flew to Melbourne on Wednesday and returned a positive test result on Friday, became the third person to contract the virus at Perth’s Mercure Hotel.
“He was one of two people in immediate adjacent rooms,” West Australian Premier Mark McGowan told reporters on Friday.
“The other person has returned a negative test result and will complete 14 days of hotel quarantine in Perth.”
Mr McGowan said the Victorian man arrived in Perth on April 3 from Shanghai and his room was alongside a family of three from the United Kingdom — two of whom also became sick with the virus.
They caught coronavirus from a couple who had travelled from India and were in an opposite room.
“(The Victorian man) returned a negative result on day 12 in hotel quarantine and was then subsequently released on April 17 before leaving for Melbourne on April 21,” Mr McGowan said.
“We now need to assume he was infectious during this five-day period.”
Mr McGowan said teams had been mobilised for contact tracing.
Among the suburbs the man visited were Kardinya, Northbridge and Leeming. He also visited Kings Park.
He stayed with a family for one night and for the remainder of his time stayed at Saint Catherine’s College at the University of Western Australia.
Victorian Health authorities are working on contacting everyone on the flight to Melbourne.
All passengers are being told to get tested and quarantine.
“Obviously, there are going to be a number of primary close contacts on that flight and that flight was Qantas QF778,” Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said.
“All of those people are being contacted by our contact tracing team and will need to isolate for the full 14 days.”
The man, who was asymptomatic, began isolating immediately after being notified he was a close contact by West Australian authorities.
His household contacts — his partner and two children — are all currently in isolation after being tested and will receive their results in the next day.
“He was picked up at the airport by his spouse and returned directly home to his residential location in the eastern suburbs where he lives with three household contacts – his spouse and two children,” Mr Foley said.
“He went straight to the airport and was contacted as he was coming off the plane as a primary close contact.
“He did all of the right things, got his gear, went straight home, sat in the back seat, put his mask on all the way home and stayed separate from the rest of the members of his family members at home.
“We will be examining the gentleman’s movements, particularly for the airport where he did wear a mask, as he did on the flight, as he did on his journey home having been contacted by public health officials as he arrived at the airport.”
Mr Foley said that the man had requested to go into a Melbourne quarantine hotel as a precaution before his positive test result came back on Friday.
“We have of course immediately accommodated that request,” he said.
Mr Foley said it was an important reminder that the pandemic was not over.
When asked if the government was confident the virus had not spread he answered: “It’s still too early to say”.
“Victorians have been down this path. We know the drill. We will do the right thing to keep this to one case, at the moment,” he said.
Because the man tested positive in Victoria, it will be recorded as a local case in the state despite it being acquired in Western Australia.
The outbreak at the Mercure Hotel in Perth happened after a couple arrived from India on April 10 and the man tested positive on April 13, followed by his wife two days later.
A pregnant mother and her four-year-old daughter, who arrived on April 3 from the United Kingdom along with the girl’s father who previously had the virus, were quarantining in an opposite room when they were diagnosed with the virus on April 16.
Authorities are investigating how it happened, but WA Premier Mark McGowan has conceded the Mercure is “not one of the best” hotels for quarantining and would no longer be used.
The potential exposure period for the floor was from April 10.