The Opposition has welcomed the re-opening date for Western Australia but called on the Labor Government to turbocharge WA’s vaccination rates and COVID preparedness over the next seven weeks.
Opposition Leader Mia Davies said the announcement of WA’s re-opening date will give families and businesses certainty to plan for 2022, but WA’s hospitals must be ready before February 5.
“Finally, West Australians have some certainty around their future, but the rush is now on to make sure we encourage 200,000 people to roll up their sleeve to hit the 90% vaccination mark,” Ms Davies said.
“The Government must do everything it can to ensure our hospitals are ready, including the modular ward facilities, and that we have enough staff to handle an influx in patients.
“The WA health system has been in a woeful condition for years, plagued by underinvestment, record ramping and Code Yellows, and exhausted and demoralised staff.
“The test for the Premier and his embattled Health Minister will be how our hospitals cope when COVID-19 enters our community, and whether their planning has been up to scratch.
“The next phase of COVID management will be the most important – it will be a test for the Labor Government to prove they have not squandered the past two years living virtually COVID-free.”
Ms Davies also said there needs to be a concerted effort to turbocharge vaccination rates over the next seven weeks, particularly in the Kimberley, Pilbara and Goldfields.
“The Premier indicated low vaccination rates in these areas would mean restrictions would be put in place that could undermine tourism and businesses.
“Every effort needs to be made to avoid this happening, we are a State flush with funds and now is the time to use them to educate, activate and encourage everyone to get vaccinated.”
Ms Davies said the Government needed to ensure communication strategies with key stakeholders in advance of re-opening were in place.
“Local Governments and emergency service providers in regional WA are important conduits of information and need to be kept in the loop on how issues will be managed in the event of a COVID outbreak,” she said.
“Given there’s only one ICU outside the Perth metropolitan area, the public are going to want to know exactly what the strategy is for dealing with any outbreak and seriously ill patients.”