How COVID-19 could ‘incapacitate’ WA FIFO camps after February 5

Article by Peter Milne courtesy of the Sydney Morning Herald.

Miners could face the end of two years of prosperity where they remained almost untouched by COVID-19 within Premier Mark McGowan’s fortress WA when the state opens up in three weeks.

Curtin University infectious disease expert Archie Clements likened WA’s isolated mining fly-in fly-out camps to islands that were “very vulnerable places during pandemics.”

“They are good at keeping infection out, but if the infection gets in it tends to sweep through the entire population and incapacitate them,” he said.

And with Omicron’s high transmissibility, Professor Clements rated the chance of an outbreak completely shutting down operations as highly likely.

Since the early months of 2020, WA’s iron ore and gas giants have rarely been troubled by COVID-19 behind the WA government’s strict border regime.

Professor Clements said testing and isolation were vital but the Omicron variant’s increased ability to spread compared to Delta made the measures less effective.

“The likelihood is that if Omicron gets in there many people will become infected, and many of those people will not be able to work, so they could end up facing disruption when it comes to their operations,” Professor Clements said.

Strict biosecurity protocols for isolating infected workers and getting those that are critically ill to hospital would be needed.