WA’s reported COVID cases are down for the fourth day in a row and hospitalizations have leveled off, though close to breaking the 300 barrier for the first time.
There were an additional 12,399 infections in the latest reporting period through 8 p.m. Saturday, while the number of people hospitalized with COVID rose slightly to 294 (from 292 the day before).
The number of ICU patients remained stable at 10.
Four additional deaths dating back to April 30 were also reported: a man in his 50s and two men and a woman in their 90s.
Reported cases have tended to decline over the weekend as testing numbers decline and only 10,648 PCT tests were performed on Saturday, of which 4,505 (42 percent) were positive.
That compares with PCR test numbers well above 15,000 for every weekday last week, and closer to 20,000 on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The state’s number of active cases has risen to a new record high of 88,238, meaning active infections have more than doubled in the space of a fortnight.
The big spike in cases comes after Prime Minister Mark McGowan relaxed most Level 1 COVID restrictions, including mask wearing and capacity limits, on April 29.
Health Director Andy Robertson said Friday that he expected daily cases to peak at around 25,000 next week before starting to decline.
That is much higher than the maximum forecast of 10,000 cases in the Omicron model prepared by WA Health before the removal of WA’s hard edge.
However, Mr. McGowan has repeatedly said that hospitalisation, and in particular the number of ICU patients, are now a more important indicator than cases, with the state’s world-leading three-dose vaccination rate ( 80.7 per cent), meaning the vast majority of West Australians experienced only very mild illness.
The prime minister also said on Friday that the “millions and millions” or free rapid antigen tests the McGowan government had provided meant far more cases were being caught and reported in WA than in other states.
“Victoria is going through five waves of COVID. We’ve basically had one,” she said.
“So, there I think that people no longer worry about informing.
The Australian Medical Association (WA) has advocated for the urgent reintroduction of masks in public in response to the rising number of cases, with chairman Mark Duncan-Smith warning that hospitalizations would reach 350 in the coming week.
“Increased stress on the system will manifest as a critical and growing ramp, issues (with) ambulance availability, likely cancellation of elective surgery, staff burnout, and worse outcomes for all hospital presentations, not just COVID,” Dr. Duncan-Smith said.