UPDATED 1:00 pm: NSW Health authorities have confirmed two new positive COVID-19 cases in the Goulburn.
Both are household contacts of the initial case reported on Wednesday (18 August) and authorities say they were not active in the community for any portion of their infectious periods and there are no public exposure sites related to these cases.
UPDATED 12.15 pm: As the ACT records 12 new cases of COVID-19, with 11 linked to existing cases, the ACT Chief Minister will put pressure on the Commonwealth at today’s National Cabinet to establish when and how more vaccines will arrive in Canberra.
More than 6800 tests have been performed in the last 24 hours and waiting times are beginning to ease across the Territory. One patient is hospitalised but is in a stable condition.
There are now 94 active cases but one case has been announced as a duplicate. Active cases include three from outside the ACT who are counted as part of the Canberra outbreak and the vast majority have been linked to existing cases.
The Gold Creek and Erindale testing sites are now both open to the general public and 20,372 people are in quarantine.
Access Canberra and police are reporting “incredibly high levels ” of compliance, the Chief Minister said at today’s press briefing.
Around 150 compliance checks have been performed in last 24 hours. There were 85 business checks, 760 traffic checks including only 12 cars turned around and 12 cautions issued, mostly to people who were not wearing masks. A total of 260 exposure locations are now listed.
Mr Barr said that yesterday’s Commonwealth announcement extending Pfizer vaccinations for 16 to 39-year-olds had been made without any advanced notice for states and territories, or any information on where the vaccine supply would come from to make this possible.
Mr Barr said the Prime Minister had made a “captain’s call” on the announcement but that states and territories had little else to go on.
“Our phones started ringing, you started asking questions but we knew nothing about it,” Mr Barr said.
“It’s helpful if we know.”
He will raise a series of concerns at National Cabinet about plans to protect and vaccinate children and young people from the virus and said that vaccination for Australians under 16 must be a priority.
Around 43 per cent of the ACT’s cases are under 17 and a further 46 per cent are aged under 44.
Between a quarter to a third of younger Canberrans are at least partially vaccinated and work is continuing to stand up a mass vaccination centre at the AIS for that cohort, once more doses of vaccine arrive.
Mr Barr will also seek assurances about what is meant by the 70 per cent and 80 per cent vaccine targets from the Doherty Institute modelling.
“We know, and every Chief Health Officer has said repeatedly, that the vaccine is not immediately effective once it’s jabbed into your arms. It takes several week to reach effectiveness from the first and second doses,” he said.
The ACT will strive for more than 80 per cent vaccination coverage. But Mr Barr warned that the road ahead was a hard one and there was little point in offering false hope of a notional “freedom day”.
“All these challenges are difficult, it is a tough time for our community. I know that and we are all feeling it,” Mr Barr said. “But we are working to do all we can to support the most vulnerable and those who are doing it tough.
“It’s gone from one to 100 cases inside of a week and that demonstrates how quickly this virus can spread, but it absolutely reinforces why the lockdown was necessary and why we need to stay the course.
“We have two choices. We see this through and we see the numbers continue to reduce, or we have the alternative path and we’ve seen how that plays out in the rest of Australia.”
Dr Coleman asked people to seek information on the website as far as possible, noting the very high volume of calls the COVID-19 hotline was receiving. She added that work is taking place around the clock to process sometimes complex exemption forms and that all exemption applications will receive a response.
She added a reminder that exposure site classifications are updated daily on the COVID-19 website. This now includes a number of public transport routes.
UPDATED 11:55 am: Chief Minister Andrew Barr has announced the ACT has recorded 12 new COVID-19 cases – 11 are linked to known cases. One is under investigation.
A total of 6804 tests have been conducted in the past 24 hours. A total of 20,372 Canberrans are in quarantine.
Pleasingly, Mr Barr noted high levels of compliance in the community with the current health directive.
A total of 150 hotel and home compliance checks, 86 business checks and 760 traffic stops were conducted yesterday.
There were 12 turnaround and 12 cautions.
Most police actions involved cautions about people not wearing masks in public.
At her daily COVID-19 briefing, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklin announced 642 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases to 8:00 pm last night.
A total of 41 were infectious in the community and there have been four more deaths linked to the outbreak.
Around 5.6 million jabs have been administered in NSW and 54 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated.
Ms Berejiklian also outlined 9:00 pm to 5:00 am curfews across select LGAs in Sydney, and childcare workers and disability support workers who live or work in areas of concern must have their first vaccine dose by 30 August.
More to come.
10:15 am: The ACT Government has announced that it will provide additional support to Canberrans in need during the lockdown period.
This support will come in the form of:
- $260,000 to extend a range of existing mental health supports delivered by community sector partners during the lockdown period
- $200,000 for a range of crisis and emergency supports including emergency financial aid, domestic and family violence services, disability and carer support and support for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community
- An additional $200,000 to support ongoing access to emergency food relief for those in need (taking the total to $450,000).
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the government has been advised by community sector partners and crisis intervention services of an increase in demand for mental health services.
10:00 am: Several public transport routes have been upgraded from casual to close contacts.
People who travelled on bus or light rail on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday last week (10 to 12 August) will need to double-check the list of exposure sites to see if their status has changed.
Gold Creek Senior Campus Gym has now been upgraded from a casual contact to a close contact site, and the Greenshed Mitchell, KFC Fyshwick, Meatways Butcher Kambah, Dan Murphy’s Dickson and 7-Eleven Phillip have all been listed as close contact locations.
Check the full list for locations and detailed exposure times.
9:30 am: Queanbeyan Woolworths and Amcal Pharmacy have been identified as the first exposure sites in the ‘border bubble’ after Queanbeyan recorded two positive COVID-19 tests on Thursday (19 August).
Anyone who visited the supermarket or pharmacy from 9:00 am to 11:30 am on Monday (16 August) is considered a casual contact and must get tested and self isolate.
NSW Deputy Premier and Member for Monaro John Barilaro said yesterday that both people lived in Queanbeyan but worked in the ACT. He also described Queanbeyan as an area of concern and said cases there were likely to grow.
The lockdown in regional NSW has been extended until at least 28 August, in line with Greater Sydney after the state yesterday recorded another record of 681 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19.
There are several testing clinics operating in Queanbeyan and across the Monaro, some of which are assisting ACT Health in processing large numbers of tests.
Speaking on breakfast radio this morning, the Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith said wait times for tests had rapidly decreased in line with demand.
Some people had reported only waiting around one hour for a test yesterday afternoon.
Ms Stephen-Smith attributed this to fewer people coming forward for testing, doing so in a more orderly manner, improved logistics and the success of targeted testing around large cohorts, such as the aged care facility and schools.
She reiterated that she expects the number of cases to go up and down in the next few days, given there are over 21,000 people in quarantine and more than 240 exposure sites listed on the Government’s website.
There are more currently more than 500 health and medical professionals in isolation or quarantine.
Check the full list of exposure sites.
Ms Stephen-Smith encouraged Canberrans to continue to be patient as they wait for responses from her office or ACT Health, but urged people not to send generic emails.
She said all of the team is busy processing the requests they are sent.
Ms Stephen-Smith also noted the frustration being felt by vulnerable Canberrans who cannot attend testing clinics and may need in-reach testing or other support. She said they are closely focused on this issue and are working on providing an inclusive response.
People who do need accessible testing are encouraged to call the COVID-19 hotline 6207 7244 or the direct contact tracers’ number they will have been provided with.
Ms Stephen-Smith clarified that people who live in postcodes outside the border bubble must apply for an exemption to enter the ACT, including for health-related appointments.
More to come.
Original Article published by Lottie Twyford on The RiotACT.