The number of active COVID-19 cases in WA has dropped below 100 for the first time in a month.

Health Minister Roger Cook said WA recorded just one new case on Tuesday, a healthcare worker at Royal Perth Hospital.

The female employee did not attend work while symptomatic and her close contacts will be notified and told to isolate.

There were eight more recoveries overnight, meaning there are only 96 active cases across the State — including 10 in regional areas.

Mr Cook said the number of infected people in hospital had fallen to 26, including five in intensive care.

The Deputy Premier urged elective surgery patients whose operations were cancelled to not contact their hospital.

He said these patients would be contacted about their rescheduled date, with the highest priority to be treated first.

Mr Cook said paediatrics, endoscopy, colonoscopy, breast screening and some urgent dentistry procedures would be the priority.

“I’d urge any elective surgery patients … and their friends and family to please do not contact your hospital,” he said.

“Those who had their surgery rescheduled will be contacted and advised of a new date as soon as practicable and possible.

“It doesn’t help anyone if our hospital switchboards are flooded with calls … in fact it may delay their ability to contact patients in a timely fashion.”

WA Health Department David Russell-Weisz confirmed non-urgent elective surgery would start from Tuesday, April 28.

He said a “backlog” of operations had built-up during the pandemic and the most urgent cases would be cleared first.

“We do not want any patient waiting for longer than they should do. WA has a very proud recent history of elective surgery performance,” Dr Russell-Weisz said.

“This is an incremental start, we have to balance this with increasing elective surgery with making sure we keep our ward and intensive care unit capacity as free as possible for any COVID increase.

“Different states will have different pressures, we know we have quite a significant wait list with ears, nose and throat and we will obviously focus on paediatrics.

“There has been a backlog built up but other this period we will clear the most urgent and depending on how we go with our COVID numbers and ICU capacity and general capacity and PPE we will try to increase further.”

Mr Cook also revealed that any AFL teams travelling into WA to play West Coast or Fremantle would be required to self-isolate for two weeks.

“I hope (the AFL) consider Western Australia as one of the hubs or conferences they’ve been looking at. Western Australia is one of the strongest states and we’d love to see our teams back in action,” he said.

The Minister reiterated Premier Mark McGowan’s earlier comments that cafes, restaurants and bars were unlikely to reopen to the public in the short-term.

“What we’re being told is that in these days when we have small numbers we should be looking at small steps … testing that using our testing regime, and if we continue to manage the virus then we can look at other steps that we can take,” Mr Cook said.

“At this stage our focus is on getting kids back into a learning environment. The schools is an incredibly important aspect of this work, but it’s all predicated on keeping the virus under control.”

Regional testing capacity will be increased with new analysing equipment for rapid results to be rolled out from Broome next week.

Kalgoorlie and Geraldton will also receive analysers, which can provide results to a coronavirus test within an hour, while feasibility studies will be done in Port Hedland, Albany and Esperance.

Mr Cook said it meant priority tests could be done in the regions instead of sending them to the city which could take 24 hours before a result was known.

“This means people in the regions who are working in a high risk environment like health, aged care workers and police officers can receive their results quicker,” he said.



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