Sunday, August 14, 2022
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ACT records 31 new cases as easing of restrictions kick in

The ACT has recorded 31 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 ahead of easing restrictions at midnight.

Key points:

  • At least 17 of today’s cases were infectious in the community 
  • Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations are now available for more Canberrans aged over 60
  • Additional cases have been linked to the Calvary Haydon aged care facility in Canberra’s north

At least 17 of the new cases spent some time infectious in the community and 14 are currently unable to be linked to other known infections.

10 people are in hospital with the virus. Three patients are in intensive care requiring ventilation.

Though ACT Deputy Chief Health Officer Vanessa Johnston said an additional positive case had been placed into ICU overnight and would be included in tomorrow’s numbers.

There are currently 246 active COVID-19 cases in the territory.

From tonight, some ACT lockdown measures will ease which will see recreation time outdoors extended, national parks reopen and additional allowances made for some retail businesses. 

There were 3,485 tests conducted yesterday.

A man on a bike rides by pedestrians on a sunny day
Restrictions are set to ease in the ACT from midnight, including a doubling of permitted outdoor recreation time.(ABC News: Ian Cutmore)

Warning not to mix vaccines as Pfizer and Moderna available for over 60s

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said it was crucial that Canberrans took advantage of earlier vaccination appointments, as Pfizer and Moderna bookings become available for more people over 60. 

“Over the next few weeks our absolute priority is to ensure that everyone who wants a vaccine has the opportunity to get one,” Mr Barr said.

“We have earlier Pfizer appointments available at ACT government mass vaccination clinics, 7,000 text messages were sent out yesterday to people who already had a booking in the system at an ACT government clinic, inviting them to bring their appointment forward.”

Healthcare worker with pfizer vaccine
More Canberrans over 60 can now book in for a Pfizer or Moderna vaccination appointment.(AAP: Daniel Pockett)

Mr Barr said although people over 60 were now eligible to book a Pfizer appointment at a government-run mass vaccination hub or a Moderna appointment through a GP, Canberrans must not mix vaccines. 

“It is not possible to get an mRNA vaccine — a Pfizer or Moderna second shot — if you have received AstraZeneca as your first dose,” he said.

“If you have received a first dose of AstraZeneca, you must receive a second dose of AstraZeneca.

“What I can say is that based on the Commonwealth government’s forward vaccine orders, for those who have had two doses of AstraZeneca, mRNA booster shots are what the government are proposing for everyone next year.”

The ACT government will also close its Calvary AstraZeneca mass vaccination clinic from October 8, with the clinic only having 30 first-dose appointments currently registered.

Mr Barr said, when the territory began to open up in mid-October, there would be about 80,000 children under 12 who would not have had access to a vaccination, but added that data showed hospitalisation rates for the cohort was low.

“The disease is much milder in children and all of the evidence supports that,” Mr Barr said.

“The analysis of the Delta strain so far indicates for kids it’s about a two per cent hospitalisation rate, for adults it’s about a 10 per cent hospitalisation rate.

“You just do the numbers then based on the ACT’s population and that gives you a sense of what it will be like over a six-month period.”

More cases linked to Calvary Haydon aged care

An aged care facility seen through a garden with a wattle tree.
Health authorities have announced further COVID-19 cases linked to the Calvary Haydon aged care facility in Bruce.(ABC News: Andrew Kennedy)

Dr Johnston said three of the new cases were linked to the Calvary Haydon aged care facility.

“There are additional cases linked to the Calvary Hayden aged care facility cluster in today’s numbers, which include two residents and one staff member,” Dr Johnston said.

“Our numbers are now at 17 cases for this cluster — four staff members, 12 residents and one household contact.

“Calvary has advised that at this stage none of the current cases are hospitalised due to COVID-19.”

Dr Johnston said due to ongoing transmission in the home, the facility would be added to the ACT’s list of public exposure sites.

“Following the addition of the Calvary Haydon aged care facility and the London Circuit construction site to our exposure list this week, and after our ongoing investigations, we’re now adding these to our active public sites of transmission,” Dr Johnston said.

“That brings these public sites of transmission to three. Calvary Haydon aged care facility has a total of 17 cases, London Circuit construction site has a total of 17 cases and Ainslie Village with a total of 13 cases.

“So, again, please check the website, check it regularly. If you’ve been to any of the locations listed, please follow the public health advice.”

A hospital building seen from across a busy road.
Health authorities say 47 Canberra Hospital staff are in quarantine after a potential exposure to a positive case of COVID-19. (ABC News: Ian Cutmore)

Hospital staff test negative, business grants extended

Health authorities said additional “day five” testing had also been conducted on staff and patients exposed to positive COVID-19 cases at Canberra Hospital over the weekend.

“As we all know already three patients have tested positive for COVID-19 in total, the initial two patients announced over the weekend, and a third case announced on September, 28,” Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said.

“Two positive cases are being cared for in the COVID-19 ward at the Canberra Hospital while one patient has been discharged. All other patients in the hospital in Ward 10A have returned negative results.

“No healthcare workers have tested positive in relation to the exposure at this time.”

Ms Stephen-Smith said 47 staff remained off work in quarantine as a result of their potential exposure.

“The fact that all of these tests have come back negative is such a good sign of the effectiveness of Canberra Hospital’s infection prevention and control and use of personal protective equipment,” she said.

The Chief Minister today also announced extensions to grant payments for struggling ACT businesses.

“Under the agreement with the Commonwealth government, there will be an additional business grant extension payment of a further $10,000 for all employing businesses and a further $3,750 for non-employing businesses,” Mr Barr said.

“This takes the baseline payment to $40,000 for employing businesses and $15,000 for non-employing businesses. In addition to these baseline amounts, another top up payment will also be made for medium and larger businesses in the ACT.”

Mr Barr also said the fitness industry had been added for the COVID-19 tourism and arts grants.

“Businesses in the fitness and sports industries such as gyms, personal trainers, dance teachers and instructors will now be included and be able to apply in our COVID-19 tourism, accommodation provider, arts, events, hospitality and now fitness grants scheme,” he said.

Earlier today, organisers of the annual car festival Summernats said they saw “no reason” why the event could not go ahead in Canberra next year.

The festival is slated to begin in January at EPIC, which has been used as a testing facility throughout the pandemic.

Mr Barr did not confirm whether the event would go ahead but said arrangements could be made if was permitted to do so.

“We’ll do what we need to, to accommodate events at Exhibition Park and that may mean either temporarily or permanently shifting testing sites next year,” he said.

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