Major bushfires bear down on Perth . . .
Significant bushfires are causing extensive damage on the north-east outskirts of Perth, the capital city of the state of Western Australia. The ‘Wooloroo’ fire, which was first reported on Monday, covers 10,500 hectares and has a perimeter of 130 km, while a smaller fire ignited less than 10 km away yesterday. The situation is dynamic and unpredictable; the fires remain uncontained and uncontrolled, with fire crews actively battling the blazes amid gusty wind conditions. Scores of homes have been destroyed, and residents have been ordered to evacuate, with those whose road access has been cut off by the fires ordered to shelter in place and enact bushfire survival plans. Smoke blanketed Perth earlier in the week.
One COVID-19 case, Perth locks down . . .
Meanwhile, Perth entered a strict five-day lockdown last Sunday after the city of two million identified one community spread case of COVID-19, its first in more than 10 months. A security guard at a quarantine hotel tested positive for coronavirus after working on a floor with someone known to have the quick-spreading U.K. variant. The lockdown is strict, with all local travel prohibited, except for essential work, health care, food shopping, and exercise. The scheduled return to school from the summer holidays has been delayed by a week. If there are no further community spread cases, the lockdown will end at 6 p.m. local time on Friday, although restrictions such as mask-wearing will remain.
The predictable and the inevitable . . .
None of this is new news in Australia. While bushfires are relatively common across much of the country, climate change has increased temperatures and exacerbated soil dryness, including in Western Australia, making intense fires more predictable. Last summer saw record bushfires in the eastern states of New South Wales and Victoria. And even though strict 14-day quarantines at state-run facilities are required for all travellers entering Australia, it is inevitable that from time to time, a worker at a quarantine facility will acquire COVID-19. Reactions have been swift and severe, with Brisbane and Sydney both lifting short-term lockdowns in the last month after each identified small numbers of community spread cases. Inter-state travel has also been restricted when case numbers have spiked. Perhaps Australia’s swift and severe lockdowns could prevent the long-term yo-yo lockdowns we have lived through in regions across Canada.
- Australian Broadcasting Corporation: Perth Hills bushfire emergency claims more homes as blaze continues to burn out of control
- The Globe and Mail: Two million Australians are in lockdown over 1 COVID-19 case. Here's what Canada can learn from their approach
- The West Australian: Premier Mark McGowan announces new restrictions for WA after five-day lockdown