18 November 2020

UPDATED: New COVID-19 case confirmed, ACT Public Health Emergency extended

| Dominic Giannini
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Public health officers Madeleine Kelly (left) and Illyria Tucker (right) are screening Adelaide arrivals for COVID-19. Photo: ACT Health.

UPDATED 10:45 am: The ACT has extended the Public Health Emergency for a further 90 days in response to the South Australian COVID-19 cluster, as the Territory records one new case, a returned diplomat who has been in quarantine.

The diplomat, a man in his 30s, and his wife flew into Sydney Airport on 15 November before taking a private car to Canberra. His wife and a driver have been identified as close contacts.

The diplomat and close contacts are all following the advice of ACT Health, Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said.

There are also seven travellers from Adelaide in isolation awaiting COVID-19 test results after flying into Canberra yesterday. The travellers have been classified as low risk, Dr Coleman said.

Three flights from Adelaide are expected to arrive in Canberra today.

Dr Coleman said that she expects the cluster in Adelaide to grow today but all “suspect cases” are linked to the outbreak with no evidence of community transmission at this point.

Despite every jurisdiction apart from NSW and the ACT putting in place border restrictions for travellers from Adelaide and South Australia, she says there is no need for mandatory testing for arrivals or further quarantine measures.

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman says Canberrans should reconsider non-essential travel to Adelaide. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

“[Mandatory testing] becomes a risk assessment, a discussion about the human rights of an individual, and where the biggest bang for our buck and how likely a positive [case] is.

“We know that individuals that have been in those exposure sites are the only people who are at risk. South Australia has done a significant amount of testing in those areas and they have not identified a single case in the last two days that is not linked with those clusters.”

An extensive list of times and locations linked to the latest COVID-19 cases can be found on the SA Health website.

The South Australian situation will impact the decision-making process to ease restrictions in the ACT at the next COVID-19 checkpoint on 27 November, Dr Coleman said, adding that the Territory “may not be able to open up as much as we would like” to ensure medical capacity remains to manage an unexpected outbreak.

Canberrans are being told to reconsider all non-essential travel to Adelaide and to ask family and friends in Adelaide who plan on coming to the ACT to postpone their visit or other non-essential travel.

The ACT is still expecting to receive two repatriation flights before Christmas, Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said.

“We are close to having a date to announce but that date is not yet available,” she told reporters.

“We are working closely with ACT officials and the Commonwealth.”

The new case takes the ACT’s total of confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic to 115, of which 111 cases have recovered. The ACT has recorded three deaths.

Original Article published by Dominic Giannini on The RiotACT.

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