A Transperth bus driver has returned a positive test for coronavirus (COVID-19) after having circulated various routes for the past two weeks, leaving many parents in the local area worried.
It is believed the driver was exposed to the virus while overseas in the United States in March, prior to the 14-day isolation period requirement, which came into effect on March 15.
The driver worked between March 9 and March 18, deciding to take time off work on March 19 as he said he felt sick.
On March 23, the driver tested positive for coronavirus and has not returned to work since, in accordance with health guidelines.
The affected areas include bus routes from Bull Creek Station to Cannington Station, Murdoch TAFE to Thornlie Station, Bull Creek Station to Elizabeth Quay Bus Station, Circle route from Fremantle Station to Fremantle Station, Murdoch TAFE to Cockburn Central Station, Cockburn Central Station to Aubin Grove Station and Aubin Grove Station to Honeywood Ave/Darling Chase.
A State Government spokesperson said the Department of Health has advised that passengers who travelled on the same vehicle as the driver are defined as “casual contacts”.
“This is particularly the case for the large majority of passengers that used a SmartRider,” he said.
“According to health guidelines, casual contacts don’t need to be concerned and do not need to be excluded from work or school, unless they become unwell, which is the health advice for every Western Australian.
“They should closely monitor their health and if any symptoms are experienced they need to seek medical advice.
“Those who may have paid their fares in cash – and may have had incidental contact – can check the bus routes and time the driver was working if they have concerns.”
The Health Department has advised that transmission is at low risk, despite the fact there was a total of 137 passengers who paid in cash across the driver’s eight shifts.
Concerned parents in local areas of Willetton, Rossmoyne, Canning Vale and Thornlie have already decided to keep their children at home while others are still following the government’s advice.
After hearing the news about the infected bus driver, one concerned parent from Harrisdale made the decision to keep her children at home since Monday, as a result of the latest figures showing an increase in coronavirus cases across Western Australia.
“It is truly despicable that the government continues to advise parents to send children to school when this is affecting our community,” she said.
“It is not just our schools, it is everyone in the area who can be affected, I know there are a lot of people and students who have taken some of these bus routes and used cash to pay.
“It will never be the same for our children now, so the least we can do is to keep our children at home and stop this virus from spreading in our community.
“It is becoming more personal and closer to our homes.”
Another concerned parent and former Thornlie resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said she stopped sending her two children to school and opted to isolate her family for the time being.
“Even if kids don’t show symptoms it doesn’t mean they don’t have it, they could be spreading it without realising,” she said.
“And having all the parents waiting en masse outside classes at 3pm to pick up the kids means that if one parent has it without showing symptoms then all the parents will get it – so it’s not really containing the virus.
“Plus, there have recently been a few kids who have tested positive to coronavirus so it means they aren’t immune and therefore is the risk your child could get it worth it?”
Schools from these areas have been contacted and some have already sent out notifications to parents advising to self-isolate children for 14 days if their child was a passenger on any of the given routes.
However, some schools have also stated that parents who have chosen to keep children at home without seeking medical advice, will not be provided curriculum work and activities, as the priority for staff is to maintain a focus on classroom learning programs whilst further advice would be provided if needed.
If any passengers who travelled those routes do experience fever or respiratory symptoms, they should take precautions and seek medical advice.
For general queries or further advice on how to seek medical attention, call the Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080.
If a non-English speaker needs help, please contact the Translating and Interpreting Service (external site) or phone 131 450.