A man in his 70s has died with COVID-19 overnight, taking the Territory’s total pandemic death toll to 102.
It comes as the ACT recorded 509 (299 PCR and 210 RAT) cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8 pm yesterday and the government extended the public health emergency declaration until the end of September.
Authorities say that extension is necessary because the Territory’s COVID-19 epidemiological situation remains “uncertain”.
Previously, that declaration – which gives the Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman additional powers – had been scheduled to end on 11 August.
There had been some hope the new pandemic management laws would come into effect following the August deadline, but this has not eventuated.
Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith said it was good news that cases are now averaging less than 1000 a day, but there was still a risk to some community members.
Dr Coleman had recommended a 60-day extension of the public health emergency; however, the government did not enact this in full.
Ms Stephen-Smith is “confident” that following the end of September, the ACT will be in a “strong position” to step down to the management framework.
Those COVID-19-specific laws have been touted as providing greater human rights protections and better oversight than what’s allowed for under the emergency legislation.
The management laws passed the ACT Legislative Assembly in June following a committee process. The bill attracted record submissions in opposition to it, but they were received from people who lived interstate or overseas or could not have an ACT residential address verified.
A public health emergency has now been continuously in force since it was first declared on 16 March 2020 for five days.
Ms Stephen-Smith stressed it was still important for Canberrans to continue practising COVID-Smart behaviours.
“This includes getting tested and staying home when you are sick, being up to date with your vaccinations, wearing a mask indoors where you can’t physically distance, and maintaining good hand hygiene,” she said.
“For people at higher risk of poor outcomes, we’d also encourage them to have a discussion with their health care provider about eligibility for COVID-19 treatments so they are well prepared if they get COVID-19.”
Local active infections continue to decline. There are now 3795 known cases and a total of 195,621 COVID-19 cases have been recorded since the pandemic began.
Yesterday, the ACT reported 415 cases and there were 140 people in hospital.
There are now 144 COVID-19 patients in the hospital, including five in ICU and one requiring ventilation.
ACT Health is now providing weekly vaccination updates.
Interstate, NSW has reported four deaths overnight and 7648 new cases of COVID-19.
There are now 2236 people in hospital with the virus and 59 people in ICUs around the state.
Victoria has reported one death overnight and 4911 cases of COVID-19.
There are now 657 people hospitalised with the virus and 39 patients are in the state’s intensive care units.