A Belgian backpacker has been arrested for allegedly fleeing hotel quarantine after he was deemed a close contact of an unvaccinated French tourist.
Zacharie Ghamri, 25, was taken to a hotel in Perth’s CBD on Friday after he was informed by the WA Health Department he had been exposed to Covid-19.
He had been staying at the now-deserted Old Fire Station Backpackers in Fremantle, where nearly 100 people were recently evacuated and told to isolate.
The 93 guests now considered close contacts had also attended the popular Perth Mess Hall at the same time as the Covid-infected French backpacker.
Now the outbreak is threatening to ruin ‘Fortress WA’s’ nearly clean bill of Covid health, with hardline premier Mark McGowan having cut off his state from the rest of Australia for most of the pandemic.
The backpackers have been moved to a five-star luxury hotel, The Westin, (pictured) for quarantine after being exposed to the virus at a hostel
The backpackers were seen enjoying their final moments of fun while being moved on a bus to hotel quarantine (pictured) after partying with a Covid-positive French backpacker, who is unvaccinated
They were quickly moved to designated hotel quarantine in Perth’s CBD where they will remain for their mandatory isolation period.
It is alleged Mr Ghamri left his hotel room at about 10.30am on Christmas Day and attempted to access the hotel foyer, PerthNow reports.
It is understood he was suffering from a panic attack when he allegedly left the room and had been struggling with his mental health since being away from his family.
Police claim Mr Ghamri yelled abuse at authorities when they attempted to arrest him and threatened to damage property and harm security staff.
Officers from the Breach Investigation Team charged the 25-year-old with failing to comply with a direction, threatening to destroy, damage or endangering or harming property, and obstructing public officers.
Mr Ghamri appeared in Northbridge Magistrates Court on Sunday and is due to reappear on January 7.
Zacharie Ghamrie had been staying at the now-deserted Old Fire Station Backpackers (pictured) in Fremantle, where nearly 100 people were recently evacuated and moved to hotels
The 93 guests now considered close contacts had attended the popular Perth Mess Hall (pictured) at the same time as the unvaccinated French backpacker
The guests were quickly moved to designated hotel quarantine in the city’s CBD where they will spend their mandatory isolation period (pictured, the Perth Mess Hall)
He is just one of dozens of guests who have been moved from the Old Fire Station and placed in hotel quarantine.
Those ordered to remain in mandatory isolation attended the Perth Mess Hall on December 19, at the same time as the French backpacker who has spent 11 days active in the Perth community.
At least six people have since tested positive for Covid from that event, including one backpacker while hundreds of party-goers have been told to quarantine.
On Christmas Eve, it was announced party-goers who attended the rave at the Perth Mess Hall in the city’s CBD would have to self-isolate for 14 days until January 3.
The backpacker at the heart of the most recent outbreak also visited the Mirrabooka shopping centre and multiple clubs in the city.
Some of the backpackers being transferred by bus to hotel quarantine appeared in high spirits as they held a ‘lockdown Christmas party’.
Some of the backpackers held a ‘lockdown Christmas party’ before they were taken by bus to hotel quarantine (pictured)
Chalk messages on the ground of the Old Fire Station demanded authorities ‘let us stay’, and shared on social media accounts (pictured)
Chalk messages on the ground of the Old Fire Station demanded authorities ‘let us stay’, and shared on social media accounts.
Other social media postings included videos of the backpackers drinking and dancing as police and WA Health made preparations outside to transport them, some going maskless and shirtless.
They kept the party going on the buses to the hotel. One backpacker wrote ‘Covid, you won’t stop us dancing’ in a video from inside the bus.
The Old Fire Station hostel’s owners said their cleaning team is in isolation and they had no help from WA Health after their guests were taken away on Friday night.
‘It’s like we’ve been hit by a bomb,’ they told The West Australian. ‘[The government] has completely walked away from the whole thing.’
Backpackers, such as the woman pictured, were moved from a hostel to a five-star hotel to quarantine after a Covid-19 outbreak in the accomodation
It comes after a 25-year-old woman was charged for failing to comply with a direction to isolate after she also attended the Perth Mess Hall event.
People allege the woman travelled to Yallinyup Beach in Busselton on Christmas Eve during a period in which she should have been isolating while waiting for test results
WA recorded eight new locally-acquired cases on Sunday, all of which are linked to the infected French backpacker who arrived from Queensland earlier this month.
The cases are assumed to be the Delta strain of coronavirus as this is the variant contracted by the backpacker currently at the heart of latest outbreak.
According to the state’s health department there are 18 confirmed cases in WA, 15 in quarantine hotels and three in self-isolation.
Contact tracers are scrambling to identify more contacts and exposure sites with over 500 close contacts and nearly 1,000 casual contacts already linked.
WA Premier Mark McGowan (pictured) has maintained a hardline border approach to keep Covid out of the state – a policy which may soon prove to be redundant
The Belgian backpacker is just one of dozens of travellers who have been moved out of the Old Fire Station Backpackers (pictured) and placed in hotel quarantine in Perth’s CBD
On Thursday, it was announced masks would be mandatory in all indoor settings while dancing in venues like bars, clubs and restaurants has been banned.
Following an uptick in cases, the WA government on Friday banned standing service in all hospitality venues in a bid to reduce the spread of the virus.
The WA branch of the Australian Medical Association has urged those who have visited exposure sites to get tested immediately.
‘If you’re a close contact or a casual contact of any of these places, then you must get tested,’ WA AMA President Mark Duncan-Smith said.
‘You owe it to yourself, you owe it to society, and you owe it to all the people in Western Australia to try to minimise the outbreak.’
However, Mr Duncan-Smith disagreed with Premier McGowan when he said the state’s reopening date of February 5 could be brought forward.
Mr McGowan last week argued the date would become redundant if Covid cases continued on an upward trajectory and became widespread in the community.
On Thursday, it was announced masks would be mandatory in all indoor settings while dancing would no longer be permitted in hospitality venues (pictured, a health worker in Perth)
The WA branch of the Australian Medical Association has urged those who have visited exposure sites to get tested immediately (pictured, a Perth woman on Christmas Eve)
‘I definitely do not think it’s an idea to open the borders earlier. The borders are not redundant,’ Mr Duncan-Smith said.
‘We’re dealing with Delta. What’s out there on our doorstep is Omicron and we need a slow burn through society.’
On Sunday, NSW recorded 6394 new daily infections (up from 6288 on Saturday), Victoria 1608 (down from 2108), Queensland 714 (down from 765), the ACT 71 (down from 142), and Tasmania 44 (up from 33).
The Omicron variant has now hit ever state and territory – except WA which is dealing with a Delta outbreak.
Compulsory mask-wearing is in place in most state and territories, as leaders try to limit the spread of the virus over the festive season.
Meanwhile the time it’s taking to be tested and receive a result has blown out in several states.
The Federal Government has announced the wait for booster shots will be reduced twice in January to help keep infections controlled and hospital numbers down.
The Omicron variant has now hit ever state and territory – except WA which is dealing with a Delta outbreak (pictured, a health care worker fills a syringe with the Pfizer vaccine in Perth)
Compulsory mask-wearing is in place in most state and territories, as leaders try to limit the spread of the virus over the festive season (pictured, a cafe worker in Perth on Christmas Eve)
From January 4, boosters will be brought forward to four months after the second dose – down from five months currently.
Then from January 31, people can get boosters after three months.
About 7.5 million Australians will be eligible for their booster shot come January 4. This will jump to 16 million at the end of the month once the time frame is dropped to three months.
Health Minister Greg Hunt on Saturday praised Australians who have rolled up their sleeves for their third dose.
‘Many thanks to Australians for taking us well past two million boosters,’ he tweeted.
Some 123,500 shots were given on Christmas Eve, 94,072 of them boosters.
WA’S COVID OUTBREAK: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WA has recorded eight new locally-acquired cases on Sunday, Boxing Day.
All of the cases are linked to a French backpacker who arrived from Queensland earlier this month and has since tested positive to Covid-19.
He visited a shopping centre in Mirrabooka and several nightclubs in the city including the Perth Mess Hall on December 18-19.
Eight people have been linked to the French backpacker at the heart of the state’s most recent outbreak.
It is assumed the new cases are the Delta variant, as this is the strain the traveller at the centre of the latest outbreak tested positive to.
Almost 100 people staying at the Old Fire Station Backpackers have been relocated to hotel quarantine after they were deemed close contacts.
The 93 guests who attended the Perth Mess Hall at the same time as the French backpacker will isolate for 14 days in hotels in the city.
According to the state’s department there are 18 confirmed cases in WA, 15 in quarantine hotels and three in self-isolation.
From Thursday, masks have been made mandatory in all indoor settings and dancing is no longer permitted in hospitality venues.
From Friday, standing service was banned in a pubs, clubs and restaurants.