AMSJ » WA mine workers embrace FIFO Lockdown

WA mine workers embrace FIFO Lockdown

FIFO Lockdown
FIFO workers have embraced the lockdown in WA

WA mineworkers have embraced a five day FIFO lockdown in response to the recent COVID-19 case identified in a hotel quarantine worker. The State locked down Sunday at 6 pm following the hotel quarantine worker being diagnosed with the UK variant strain of the virus.

A spokesperson for Premier McGowan told AMSJ that “FIFO workers in Perth (will) not be able to fly north to the Pilbara during the lockdown.”

Workers told AMSJ that some commercial flights into the Pilbara have been cancelled amidst the lockdown.  Several workers were reportedly left stranded and some companies were choosing to charter flights for mineworkers to return to their home base of Perth.

Mr McGowan confirmed “We have communicated with all companies that no-one should be leaving Perth, Peel, or the South West regions to fly up to a mine site this week with some limited exceptions, especially for specialists required to keep mines operating.” 

“We are asking everyone to do the right thing here.”

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The Chamber of Mines and Energy’s director of policy and advocacy Rob Carruthers confirmed that mines would continue to operate albeit with some limited restrictions.

“The focus is on continuing operations as normal,” Mr Carruthers said.

“Obviously essential operations need to continue during this period and that’s what’s reflected in the advice that’s come out from Government.

“From a resource sector perspective, we’ve been preparing for a second wave for many, many months and this is really about making sure that the controls that have been identified and are already in place are at the appropriate levels given the lockdown … over the next five days Mr Carruthers told ABC News”

He said Mr Carruthers said the sector was taking a “conservative approach” to the lockdown.

“It’s really about limiting movements to as low as practicable and looking at the existing controls that are in place — particularly around transit and those people who need to work in close proximity,” he said.

Since the commencement of COVID-9, many mining companies have benchmarked measures for containing the spread of the virus. Measures have included education programs, screening programs, social distancing, self-identification and additional cleaning.

FMG chief executive Elizabeth Gaines said the company’s incident management team was meeting regularly to consider the latest Government guidelines.

“While mining workers have been deemed an essential service, we support the need to minimise travel and have canceled today’s flights as we await updates on the situation,” she said in a statement.

WA health latest COVID-19 Tweets

“We are cooperating with the government to limit the movement of people during this important five-day lockdown.

“The health and safety of the Fortescue family is our highest priority and Fortescue will continue to work closely with authorities to ensure all relevant measures are implemented to reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 directly impacting our team, their families, and the community.”

The mining industry has led the charge on effective controls associated with COVID-19 preventing past FIFO lockdowns. The industry first embraced a range of screening programs, temperature detection, education, cleaning programs and social distancing. The industries rapid response has assisted Australia in weathering the financial impact of the virus.

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WA Health quashes returned traveler rumor

WA health yesterday confirmed that a rumour of a returned traveller visiting hospitals in Perth was incorrect. The Department of Health said the suspected historical case that attended Fiona Stanley Hospital in recent days is indeed historical.

This means that the case was not infectious in Australia and at no time posed a public health risk to members of the public.

This historical case was widely publicised yesterday due to claims being made on social media.

The historical case returned to Australia from overseas travel and completed two weeks in hotel quarantine in New South Wales.

Initial PCR tests were very weak, in keeping with him being non-infectious and having infection some time ago. Subsequent test results received today confirm the person is now PCR negative, but serology positive. This provides confirmation that the case was historical and non-infectious in WA.

The Department of Health believes that person was infectious in Mexico in December 2020.

Given confirmation of the case being historical, the person has now been released from hotel quarantine.

Members of the public who attended Fiona Stanley Hospital and the same entertainment venues as the individual can be reassured, he did not pose a public health risk.

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AMSJ April 2022