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Perth school leavers: COVID fears for partying high school students heading down south

Joe SpagnoloThe West Australian
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School leavers have been urged to take precautions as COVID infections rise. File photo.
Camera IconSchool leavers have been urged to take precautions as COVID infections rise. File photo. Credit: Lincoln Baker/WA News

There are fears Leavers week could become a super-spreader of COVID-19, as thousands flock to Dunsborough to party.

Both Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson and chief health officer Dr Andy Robertson urged revellers to take precautions as weekly COVID-19 infections pass the 500 mark.

Thousands of youngsters started headed south on Sunday for yearly school leavers celebrations.

“With school leavers celebrations kicking off today I’d urge revellers to consider moving away from anyone who is sick and coughing while at one of the planned events,” Ms Sanderson said.

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“We know large events are higher risk when it comes to contracting and spreading the virus, and parents are encouraged to make a plan with their children for how they would isolate if they become sick with COVID-19 while at Leavers.

“Most importantly, anyone returning from Leavers who feels unwell should please stay away from their grandparents and other vulnerable people in our community until their symptoms resolve.”

WA Health announced on Friday it was introducing mask-wearing requirements in public hospitals due to rising COVID cases.

As of Monday staff and patients must wear surgical masks in high-risk hospital clinical areas and around vulnerable patients in critical care settings like intensive care.

As of November 12, 531 new cases of COVID had been reported — an increase of 14 per cent on the previous week.

“Most importantly, anyone returning from Leavers who feels unwell should please stay away from their grandparents and other vulnerable people in our community until their symptoms resolve.”

WA Health announced on Friday it was introducing mask-wearing requirements in public hospitals due to rising COVID cases.

From Monday staff and patients must wear surgical masks in high-risk hospital clinical areas and around vulnerable patients in critical care settings like intensive care.

As of November 12, 531 new cases of COVID had been reported — an increase of 14 per cent on the previous week.

There were 57 new hospital admissions and four admissions into an intensive care ward.

Four people died from COVID.

Dr Robertson said increase in COVID cases had been driven by the Omicron XBB variant EG.5.

He said on Saturday teenagers should “consider wearing a mask in crowds or when attending indoor events”.

But mask wearing at Leavers was not compulsory.

“We are encouraging school-leavers to follow some simple precautions to help stop the spread of COVID during this year’s Leavers’ events,” Dr Robertson said.

“If you are attending large-scale events — like those in the Leavers’ Zone and BeachFest — you are at higher risk of contracting COVID.

“We are experiencing an increase in community transmission of COVID which is expected as people’s immunity wanes over time.

“There are a number of variants contributing to the spike in cases.

“At events such as Leavers’ where it is inevitable there will be crowds, if someone near you is sick and coughing, consider moving away from them and to a less crowded spot.”

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