Low risk to AFL decider as virus enters WA

The AFL grand final in Perth will go ahead as planned for now after a visiting truck driver tested positive to COVID-19 upon returning to NSW.

© Scott Barbour/AAP PHOTOS The AFL grand final between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs is on for now despite a COVID case.

But authorities remain on alert with a further outbreak to potentially result in WA’s risk-averse government imposing restrictions on the game.

A second driver who travelled in the same truck has tested negative for the virus and West Australian officials are confident the risk to the wider community is low, given the pair were only in WA for about 48 hours last week.

They attended a service station in Kewdale, in Perth’s southeastern suburbs, but otherwise had minimal contact with others.

About 61,000 people are expected to attend Saturday’s sold-out premiership decider between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs at Optus Stadium.

Twice this season, WA’s government has made last-minute calls to bar crowds from attending AFL fixtures at Optus Stadium because of a handful of coronavirus cases being detected.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has maintained the marquee fixture will be played in front of a crowd even if it means having to shift the game from Perth.

A more likely scenario, should West Australian authorities impose a crowd ban, is for the game to be postponed by a week.

Health Minister Roger Cook on Wednesday said there would be no immediate changes to the grand-final arrangements but that could change if there were more infections.

“It really depends on the positive cases, if we have any, and the background in relation to those cases,” he said.

“If it’s unclear, if there’s a mystery component to where people contracted the disease, that obviously gives us much greater cause for concern.”

The minister expected only a small number of potential contacts, most likely among people who visited refuelling sites.

There was also likely to be similar exposure sites in South Australia, where some fans have travelled across the Nullarbor to attend the Perth grand final.

Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs are scheduled to hold open training sessions at Optus Stadium on Friday in front of about 25,000 fans.

The AFL has opted this year not to hold a traditional grand-final parade, with fans instead encouraged to attend the ticketed training event.

Melbourne’s players and officials have been free to roam through Perth for almost two weeks while the Bulldogs emerged from quarantine over the weekend.

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