Mark McGowan has doubled down on WA’s hard border – but with rising COVID cases, it may not last

How do we move from living in fear of COVID to living with it?

“Get vaccinated,” West Australian Premier Mark McGowan said.

“Once people are vaccinated at very high levels, we can much better cope with COVID.”

This statement was made during an interview on September 3 last year.

At the time, WA had a double-dose vaccination rate of just over 33 per cent and Omicron was not in the picture.

Now, more than 90 per cent of WA’s population aged over 12 is double-dose vaccinated, with a triple-dosed rate of around 34 per cent.

But Mr McGowan has described the highly transmissible Omicron variant as an “emergency”, prompting him to cancel the state’s planned border reopening on February 5.

The West Australian newspaper with big stylized writing on it reading 'THE FIRST RULE OF FEB 5 IS YOU DON'T TALK ABOUT FEB 5'
The delayed reopening of WA’s border drew a mixed response from the community.(ABC News: James Carmody)

At his press conference on Thursday, Mr McGowan started by pointing out that Australia had recorded its deadliest day of the pandemic so far.

“That is a hard, unavoidable and very uncomfortable fact,” he said.

Amid accusations of fearmongering in the wake of his decision to delay WA’s border reopening indefinitely, Mr McGowan doubled down this week.

“It [COVID-19] is something to worry about, “he said.

“You should not downplay it.

“And then there is the death rate and the hospitalization rate.

“All I am trying to do is make sure we are prepared and our vaccination rates are right, particularly for those who are older or immunocompromised.”

Waning boosters may offset increased vaccination rates

However, many of the most vulnerable West Australians have already had a third dose and experts have warned the efficacy of that dose could soon begin to wane.

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