All close and casual contacts of the Geraldton hospital COVID patient test negative to the virus

Phoebe PinGeraldton Guardian
Geraldton Health Campus.
Camera IconGeraldton Health Campus. Credit: The Geraldton Guardian

All close and casual contacts of the seafarer who tested positive to the highly infectious Delta COVID-19 variant after being treated at Geraldton Hospital have tested negative to the virus.

Geraldton was placed on high alert after a crew member was taken off the bulk carrier MV Emerald Indah with COVID-19 symptoms and kept in the hospital’s emergency department for three hours on July 4.

He was eventually taken to a negative pressure room, with WA Country Health Service principal health officer Helen Van Gessel on Wednesday conceding the man had been in the ED for “too long”.

A staff member without personal protective equipment later entered a lift that had been used by the patient before it was cleaned.

WACHS identified more than 50 casual contacts who were in the ED at the same time as the seafarer but allowed them to “go about their normal business” while awaiting COVID-19 test results.

That decision was reversed by Premier Mark McGowan on Thursday, when he said all casual contacts would have to isolate until they received negative results, when they had already spent several days in the community.

Mr McGowan at the weekend confirmed the one close and 55 casual contacts of the man had received negative COVID-19 test results.

He said additional testing would be conducted over the following days.

Community response to the incident was mixed, with Batavia Health practice manager Holly Fawcett saying the Mid West Respiratory Clinic had seen a rise in inquiries for the Pfizer vaccine.

Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn said he was “gravely disappointed” the local government had not been informed of the incident in a “timely manner”.

The seafarer in his 50s remains isolated in Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in a stable condition.

The MV Emerald Indah was cleared to leave WA waters and return to Indonesia on Wednesday night.

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