“Obviously we don’t have hundreds or thousands of people sitting around on the phones when we haven’t had a single case in 150 days,” he said.
“That would be a waste of time and money, but what we do have is plans in place and a surge capacity should it be required and that’s a sensible approach to this issue.”
On Monday, WAtoday revealed the WA government had moved to expand its contact tracing capabilities to manage an outbreak of up to 10,000 active cases until at least the end of 2022.
The work would be outsourced to a private provider. The current system was acquired quickly under emergency procurement laws and has to date traced 551 confirmed cases and 2033 of their close contacts using 118 staff.
Mr McGowan said there was currently a unit in Western Australia assisting Victoria with their contact tracing.
“When the peak of the pandemic was upon us back in April we set up major contact tracing units centrally, indeed one of them was at Optus Stadium,” he said.
“Lots of people were available to undertake contact tracing and they did.”
The Premier said the situation in WA was different from other states, where there were still significant restrictions in place.
“To me, and I don’t want to jinx this, but that’s a sign of success, that’s a sign of doing well and what it means is being able to get our economy far more open than any other state in Australia,” he said.
“If you go to Sydney or Brisbane, they still have all sorts of restrictions going to pubs, you can’t stand up when you’re having a drink. You can’t go on dance floors, weddings can only be a hundred or so people.
“In Sydney they’ve got a rule that only 10 people can come to your house.
“We’re not in that position, so Western Australians have managed this issue really well compared to the other states.”
On Monday, Mr Morrison said if there was an outbreak in WA “you’d want to be confident … your testing regime was strong enough, and I note that the testing levels in Western Australia are – well, on the last common operating picture report, were the lowest in the country”.
But the Premier said WA health services were conducting about 3000 COVID-19 tests a day. He said the rates were lower than other states because there had been a massive drop in the number of cold and flu cases in the community and people in the eastern states were “hyper-aware” of the pandemic.
“In some ways Western Australia at this point in time has been a victim of our success and that’s why these sorts of things have been said about our state,” he said.
Nathan is WAtoday’s political reporter and the winner of the 2019 Arthur Lovekin Prize for Excellence in Journalism.