Shadow Regional Health Minister Martin Aldridge has demanded answers from the State Government after a breach in COVID-19 protocols at Geraldton Regional Hospital put frontline health workers and patients at risk this week.

The incident occurred after a COVID-infected crew member was transferred from the MV Emerald Indah ship to Geraldton Regional Hospital.

“It’s incredibly concerning that COVID-19 protocols were breached at Geraldton Regional Hospital after the Premier gave assurances there would be no threat to the Geraldton community,” Mr Aldridge said.

“Any outbreak of COVID-19 is a very serious threat to lives and livelihoods, but especially so in regional WA where health resources are already stretched thin.”

Mr Aldridge said the State Government had questions to answer around their handling of the incident.

“Why was this patient allowed to sit in a cubicle in the Emergency Department for three hours when the risks were clearly known, and what was the basis of the decision to treat the patient in Geraldton rather than transport them directly to a more capable hospital?

“I’m also concerned at communications from WA Country Health Service on Monday assuring the community COVID-safe protocols had been adhered to. This has not been the case and these posts have not been corrected or updated.”

Mr Aldridge said he was worried the incident could reduce capacity within the Geraldton Regional Hospital given the number of casual contacts identified.

“This incident has resulted in at least one hospital staff member being placed in self-isolation for 14 days and has the potential to impact dozens more.

“To lose even a single front-line health worker in regional WA could result in a reduction of services and could place families at risk if an outbreak occurs.”

Mr Aldridge reiterated calls for an independent inquiry into the State’s COVID-19 response and capability and accused the Government of becoming complacent since the election.

“With WA still battling with regular COVID-19 breaches in recent months and families, businesses and communities bearing the weight of lockdowns and restrictions, you have to wonder why WA was not better prepared given the lessons learned in the past year.

“Instead of pushing ahead with silencing regional voices with a deceptive electoral reform agenda, the Premier and Health Minister should have been focused on ensuring our State was kept safe and secure from COVID-19.

“Events of the past week, with Perth and Peel under lockdown and Geraldton and Mid West put at risk prove the State Government has not done their job.”

Mr Aldridge said he would write to the Standing Committee on Public Administrations calling on them to refocus their efforts on examining the State’s response to COVID-19 in light of their recently announced inquiry into St John Ambulance.