State government to expand COVID-19 testing for FIFO workers

FIFO workers not showing symptoms can now be tested for COVID-19. Photo: File image.
FIFO workers not showing symptoms can now be tested for COVID-19. Photo: File image.

Fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workers without symptoms will now be able to be tested for COVID-19 with the state government partnering with major resource companies.

The testing among FIFO workers is the second pillar of the DETECT program, a joint initiative of the Department of Health and the WA research community.

The DETECT program will examine the prevalence of COVID-19 in key sectors of the WA community and help to provide greater certainty around possible undetected transmission of the disease in the state.

Wednesday's announcement is the start of the DETECT FIFO project led by Curtin University and the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research.

It will engage with mining companies who are supporting the screening of workers for COVID-19.

It is expected that nearly 30,000 tests will be conducted during the life of the project.

The DETECT FIFO project will be funded by industry and has been endorsed by the Chamber of Minerals and Energy.

While there is no evidence of community spread of COVID-19, it is hoped the DETECT program will further assist in developing an even stronger evidence base on which to make policy decisions and ease restrictions.

"With our state COVID-19 numbers continuing to be very encouraging, we are pleased to announce that testing of asymptomatic groups in the community is expanding," Premier Mark McGowan said.

"Last week we announced our DETECT research program would commence with the testing of students and staff at 80 public schools, and now this study is being expanded to FIFO workers from some of our major mining companies."

WA health minister Roger Cook said it was important to remain on the front foot in the fight against the coronavirus.

"While our number of COVID-19 cases is very low in Western Australia, we must not become complacent and should continue to adopt social distancing and good hand hygiene," he said.

"We are very pleased that industry is supporting and collaborating with this component of DETECT and that the Chamber of Minerals and Energy is in full support."