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WA coronavirus hard border with eastern states under review today, Premier says

ABC Health logo ABC Health 15/01/2021 By Benjamin Gubana
Mark McGowan wearing a suit and tie: Mark McGowan says the lack of new cases in Victoria and other states is "great news". (ABC News: Hugh Sando) © Provided by ABC Health Mark McGowan says the lack of new cases in Victoria and other states is "great news". (ABC News: Hugh Sando)

WA Premier Mark McGowan says no community spread of coronavirus in Victoria will help the State Government move toward changing its border arrangements more quickly.

Western Australia currently has a hard border in place for Victoria, as well as both New South Wales and Queensland, meaning travellers from those states are prevented from entering unless they meet strict exemption criteria.

The rules also require states classified as "medium risk" to record 28 days of no community transmission before WA will consider easing border restrictions.

But Victoria has now recorded its ninth consecutive day of no new locally acquired cases, and Mr McGowan said an emergency meeting would be held this afternoon to discuss the matter.

"We'll have an emergency committee meeting this afternoon and we'll discuss the matter there, we haven't made any final decision at this point in time," Mr McGowan said.

"Can I just say about Victoria, Queensland and now New South Wales, there are zero cases today. That is great news.

"It does help us move towards changing the arrangements more quickly, but we have not made a decision at this point in time."

Premier pushes Christmas Island plan

Mr McGowan repeated his calls for the Federal Government to use remote, Commonwealth-run facilities to house returned Australian travellers, in a bid to better protect citizens from the variant coronavirus strains.

"In light of the British strain, we are very, very cautious," he said.

"They [the Commonwealth] do have facilities out there, they have defence bases, many of which are remote, and they have Christmas Island.

"In order to deal with the extensive numbers of Australians overseas in a secure way, I think it needs to be looked at again, because they're in more remote locations where there's less prospect of spread of the virus, and they are used to dealing with security and maintaining very high standards.

Mr McGowan said he would like to see the facilities used as soon as possible.

"Obviously the British strain is spreading around the world. Across Britain, we've seen what's happened, they've got a rapidly increasing death rate every single day," he said.

"So we don't want to see the British strain here."

[CHART WA cases] (CHECK IT HAS BEEN UPDATED)

'A dangerous prospect': Kirkup

Opposition Leader Zak Kirkup said he would support the State Government in looking at alternatives for quarantine arrangements.

But he said it was a "dangerous prospect" to put people in a detention centre on Christmas Island.

"I think it's a significant step to suggest … that returning Australian travellers should be put in the same detention facility as those who are being deported," he said.

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