13 August 2021

UPDATED: Delta confirmed, Gold Creek school communities in quarantine

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Andrew Barr

Chief Minister Andrew Barr: more cases are expected. Photo: Ian Bushnell

UPDATED 2:55 pm: The Chief Health Officer has confirmed that the first five COVID-19 cases have the delta variant, and that a sample from the Gold Creek school student has been sent for genomic testing to determine if there was a link to the other cases.

Dr Kerryn Coleman said that the four cases linked to the young man whose positive test sparked the lockdown had either been to one of the close contact sites or was a household contact.

But she would not reveal any more information about them.

Dr Coleman said none of the cases had been admitted to hospital but were in quarantine at home or in an isolation unit.

The student case had dramatically expanded the number of close and casual contacts, estimated to be nearly 4,000, and meant all staff, students and visitors at the senior and junior campuses of Gold Creek School and the nearby Holy Spirit Catholic Primary School, after-school care and the early learning centre plus all household and secondary contacts went immediately into 14-day quarantine and need to be tested.

Construction workers at the Gold Creek School have also had to go into quarantine and get tested.

A pop-up testing site will be established at the school, placing even more pressure on precious testing resources as both EPIC and the new Brindabella Business Park centre report long queues and four to six-hour waiting times.

Dr Coleman said health authorities would reassess the situation early next week, when she should be able to say whether the lockdown would need to be extended.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said more cases were expected but “we are seeking to get to them first”.

He reiterated the importance of abiding by the lockdown and staying home so the contact tracers could their job and spread of the virus could be minimised.

Mr Barr said investigations were continuing into the source case to see whether there had been a public health order breach but the priority was informing the community about exposure sites which allowed close contacts to be identified.

ACT Health said that there 1,862 confirmed close contacts as at 11:00 am today.

For the latest public health advice from ACT health, visit covid19.act.gov.au.

UPDATE 12:20 pm: A 14-year-old student at Gold Creek School in Gungahlin has tested positive for COVID-19.

The student was infectious at the school from 9 August until 11 August.

All students, staff, visitors, and construction workers at either of the Gold Creek School campuses, the Holy Spirit Catholic School, the Out of School Hours Centre and the Early Childhood Centre have been ordered to go for testing and self-isolate.

At this stage there are no identified links between the child and the initial outbreak.

ACT Health is investigating whether the child caught a bus to school with other students or had siblings at other schools in the area.

A pop-up COVID testing facility will be established at Gold Creek in an attempt to identify whether the hundreds of people potentially linked to the student have been exposed to the virus.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the ACT would aim for zero cases active in the community before ending lockdown.

“We want all new identified cases to have been in quarantine for their entire period,” he said.

The child’s positive result was returned after the 9:00 am cut-off for official reporting in today’s figures and will appear in tomorrow’s tally.

It takes the total number of cases in the ACT to six.

12:10 pm: ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr has confirmed there are now six active COVID-19 cases in the region.

ACT Health carried out a record number of tests yesterday (12 August), with two new active COVID cases uncovered.

Almost 4000 close or casual contacts have been identified and exposure sites are likely to grow.

11:45 am: About a dozen students living on the ANU campus are considered close contacts from COVID-19 exposure sites and are isolating in self-contained apartments and following ACT Health orders.

An ANU spokesperson said these close contacts have been or are in the process of being tested for COVID-19, with the assistance of ACT Health.

“All other students are deemed secondary contacts,” he said.

“As an extra precaution, and at the request of ACT Health, we have asked those students to remain in their rooms, while we confirm that there are no positive cases among our residential community.

“Kitchens and dining halls are closed in these residences and students are being provided with food deliveries.

“Where there are shared bathrooms, residents have been given a designated bathroom to use. We also have put in place strict protocols for their use that have been approved by ACT Health.”

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr is expected to brief the media on the unfolding COVID-19 situation in the ACT at midday today.

10:25 am: The ACT has more than 3,000 close contacts from the list of COVID-19 exposure sites released by ACT Health on Thursday, Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said today.

“We’ve got more than 3,000 close contacts identified from those various exposure sites, and known contacts already,” Ms Stephen-Smith told 2CC radio.

She also told ABC radio that ACT Health still did not know the source of the infection and whether the original case had been to Sydney.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr will provide an update on case numbers at 12 noon.

Ms Stephen-Smith has told Canberrans that only those who have symptoms, are close contacts or have been advised by ACT Health to get tested should do so, as long queues have formed at testing sites at EPIC and Brindabella Business Park.

She said people could also get tested at Capital Pathology sites, and that a new mass testing site was being considered for the southside.

8:00 am: Multiple new close and casual contact sites are being named by ACT Health as contact tracers race to establish who may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Pellegrino’s Cafe in Fyshwick is now a close-contact exposure site from last Sunday, as is the Windsor Smith shop at the Canberra Outlet Centre.

Anyone at Pellegrino’s between 7:15 am and 8:15 am on Sunday, or Windsor Smith between 2:45 pm and 3:15 pm on Sunday, must get tested and quarantine for 14 days, regardless of whether their test results are negative.

The EQ Cafe and Lounge in Deakin is a casual contact site. Anyone who was there on Wednesday between 6:30 am and 4:00 pm needs to get tested and isolate until they receive a negative result.

Anyone who attended the Gungahlin Kmart between 3:00 pm and 4:00 pm and Big W stores between 3:45 pm and 4:30 pm on Tuesday afternoon must also get tested and isolate until they receive a negative result.

READ ALSO Fleeing lockdown? What were you thinking?

Casual contacts must complete the ACT contact declaration form and quarantine until they have received a negative result.

Fourteen close-contact exposure sites were identified in the ACT after a man in his 20s from Gungahlin tested positive to the virus. Three additional cases were subsequently diagnosed among his close contacts and more exposure sites are therefore likely.

People who have been at identified exposure sites must complete an online form available on the ACT COVID-19 website.

ACT Health said that anyone who attended the Canberra Outlet Centre between 2:00 pm and 3:30 pm on 8 August outside the specifically identified outlets must also monitor for symptoms and get tested immediately if they develop.

Exposure locations will be updated each day on the ACT Health site.

“Even if you have not been in an exposure location, please be extra vigilant when monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19 and get tested immediately if you experience even the mildest of symptoms,” ACT Health said.

“We will continue to provide regular updates on the situation as it emerges.”

Original Article published by Genevieve Jacobs on The RiotACT.

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