Better test access plea
Vasse MLA Libby Mettam is pushing for the State Government to improve COVID-19 testing accessibility for truck drivers crossing the border, with Health Department figures suggesting WA has the lowest test rate in the country.
The Opposition moved a motion in the Lower House on Tuesday for the Government to undertake a detailed risk assessment of the State’s hard border COVID-19 testing regime.
Anyone who enters WA from a State other than New South Wales or Victoria is tested on day 11 of hotel quarantine unless they fall under the category of “exempt traveller”, typically in the transport industry, because they will leave within the 11-day period.
Ms Mettam said transport workers were on the frontline, crossing the border, moving between States and dealing with many people across the country.
“I think it is very valuable that National Cabinet has made some moves towards mandatory testing for the transport industry, given that we are seeing over 300 trucks cross the border every day,” she said.
On average 52 people cross the border every day without any mandatory testing or protocols in place for protections from COVID-19.
Western Roads Federation chief executive Cameron Dumesny said truck drivers travelling interstate were the most-tested occupation in the country. “We need testing areas for truck drivers that are on the side of the road so that drivers don’t need to leave their vehicle to be tested,” he said.
“If they have a dangerous goods load they can’t leave the truck so there needs to be some practicalities. You can’t leave livestock beside a hospital while you take a test.”
He said current testing sites in Kalgoorlie and Broome were off-route and inconvenient and suggested testing sites be created in Norseman and Kunun-urra.
According to the Federal Government, WA’s COVID-19 test rate is 10.5 per cent which is below neighbouring South Australia (16.7 per cent) and Northern Territory (11.6 per cent).
Health Minister Roger Cook said the hard borders and testing regime had been a “resoundingly successful program”.
“At the moment we are undertaking around 18,000 tests a week,” he said.
“Truckies have an opportunity to be tested wherever they need to go.
“If they cannot show evidence that they have been tested within the last seven days and have returned a negative result we can make sure they have access to one of our COVID-19 clinics.”
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