A Department of Fire and Emergency Services fire fighter battles a bushfire in Brigadoon, Perth, Australia, February 2, 2021. AAP Image/Supplied by Department of Fire and Emergency Services, Evan Collis/via REUTERS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.


Within days of the Perth government asking residents to stay home to lock down the spread of coronavirus, many were forced to flee for shelter as a fire raged through the Australian bush.

Two million Australians are under a five-day lockdown after one case of coronavirus was discovered in Perth, the Western Australia capital. Meanwhile, the bushfire northeast of the city destroyed 59 homes and threatened more.

A quarantine hotel security guard who worked on a floor with two positive cases of the more contagious UK variant of COVID-19 tested positive Jan. 28, forcing the Perth metro area and the Peel and South West regions into lockdown. Authorities confirmed the worker contracted the same strain. The guard was the first person to be infected in Perth since April 11 of last year and remains the only case in the community. The positive test ended Australia’s two-week run with no new cases, the country’s longest coronavirus-free period during the pandemic. The abrupt lockdown is not a new concept in the country, as Queensland capital Brisbane completed a three-day lockdown over one case in mid-January.

Smoke from the 17,000-acre blaze brought ash into Perth’s city center roughly 18 miles away. Government officials told residents in the fire zone to evacuate as soon as possible, even if it means breaking lockdown. However, some residents were warned it is too late to leave and instead were directed to shelter in rooms they could escape and facing away from the fire front. Six firefighters sustained minor injuries, but no other injuries or deaths were reported. 


This section includes an aggregation of articles showing different viewpoints on the topic.

Perth wakes to first day of ‘drastic and immediate’ lockdown – The Sydney Morning Herald – 2/1/2021
The ‘dramatic and immediate’ shutdown meant the first day of school for thousands of children on Monday was put on hold and the daily work commute reduced to a trickle of cars along the city’s usual bustling freeway. Previously, WA’s harshest lockdown rules — in place for much of April 2020 — restricted gatherings to households or two people and encouraged people to stay home where possible, but did not make it mandatory.

Panic replaces complacency as Covid reality hits Western Australia hard – The Guardian – 2/1/2021
It took just one Covid-19 case to pop the bubble of normalcy in Western Australia. The state has been a coronavirus-free utopia for 10 months, with its 2.76 million residents watching from the sidelines as a global pandemic brought the world to its knees. While more than 21,000 people tested positive for coronavirus in the UK on Sunday, in Perth the news of a single case sent a jolt of reality reverberating across the city.

First Came the Lockdown. Then Came the Wildfire. – The New York Times – 2/2/2021
Residents described a confused scramble in the middle of the night, as they were unsure where they were supposed to go in light of the lockdown rules. “We wish it would be either one or the other, not both,” Gemma Martin, a 33-year-old hospitality worker who fled with her children, said of the fire and the lockdown. […] People in downtown Perth reported ash raining down from an amber sky, more than 19 miles away from the fire, which had been named after the nearby town of Wooroloo.

Perth is the latest city to suffer a COVID quarantine breach. Why does this keep happening? – The Conversation – 2/2/2021
Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and now Perth have all seen the coronavirus escape from quarantine. Why does this keep happening, especially given the harsh lessons learned from Melbourne’s outbreak? The short answer is there is no national standard, and a stubborn resistance to taking aerosol transmission seriously.

Confusion over what WA lockdown means for FIFO workers – Mining News – 2/1/2021
The advice initially stated that fly-in, fly-out workers would not be able to travel to and from lockdown areas. The ruling would have left thousands stuck at work all week. WA Police commissioner Chris Dawson later stepped in, declaring FIFO workers as essential and allowing them to travel to and from work. “However, the WA government is requesting industry’s co operation to minimise any movement of workers over the next five days to only that which is absolutely necessary,” the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies said in an email to members.

Queensland report might hold secret to WA’s COVID outbreak – The Sydney Morning Herald – 2/1/2021
A report into Brisbane’s hotel quarantine outbreak in January, which triggered a national health emergency, is set to be made public this week and could hold clues into how the latest coronavirus outbreak in Western Australia spread. […] In the immediate aftermath of Brisbane’s lockdown more than three weeks ago, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk warned other leaders the outbreak was “of national concern” and called for an immediate review into hotel quarantine systems.


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