5 May 2020

ACT COVID-19 cases jump to 77, two cases being investigated for transmission source

| Dominic Giannini
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A total of 77 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the Territory. Six people are in Canberra hospitals as a result of the virus. Photo: George Tsotsos.

Six new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the ACT overnight, bringing the total to 77, including two who have recovered from the virus.

The six new cases are between 19 and 82 years of age.

Six people are currently in ACT hospitals with the virus, two of whom are in intensive care.

The new cases include four males and two females, but there remains no evidence of community transmission in the ACT, Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said.

“We have been saying we expect this will change; it is inevitable that this will change,” she said.

“I am taking this opportunity to remind people that it is everyone’s responsibility to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”

Three of the new cases have been linked to overseas travel and two others were close contacts of confirmed cases. The sixth case is still being investigated by Health Protection Services, bringing the total number of investigations to two; however, Ms Stephen-Smith said she did not believe that either of these investigations relates to health workers.

“It is too early to say if these are evidence of community transmission in the ACT,” she said.

Ms Stephen-Smith said it was likely that there would be evidence of community transmission within the week, declaring it a wake-up call for Canberrans to strictly follow social distancing and self-isolation regulations.

“Our healthcare workers have been saying they cannot stay at home, but if you can, you are helping them,” she said.

“We are not immune, so please, if you do not have to leave your home to go to work at an essential workplace, or go to the supermarket or another essential place, stay at home.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said there are glimmers of hope that the curve is beginning to flatten as infection rates drop from a 25 to 30 per cent daily increase to somewhere closer to 13 to 15 per cent.

Around 85 per cent of positive cases in Australia remain overseas transmissions or close contacts of a confirmed case, Mr Morrison said.

However, if the spread of the virus continues to worsen, the ACT could see ice-skating rinks being transformed into makeshift morgues, with reports suggesting that the Phillip ice-skating rink is being asked not to thaw out.

Ms Stephen-Smith said that although she was not privy to those conversations, it would not surprise her if that is the case.

“We do not want to see that happen but we are planning for the worst,” she said.

“I have not asked about the ice rink but it would not surprise me, I know that there has been planning going on across all ACT agencies.

“We are planning for the worst while hoping for the best. The best possible outcome is flattening the curve.”

The ACT has recorded 4,230 negative tests as of 12:30 pm today (29 March).

All flight details of confirmed cases are available on the ACT Health website via www.health.act.gov.au.

People who are concerned and want further information on the virus can also call the Australian Government’s 24-hour Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080.

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