19 July 2022

ACT records 1221 new COVID-19 infections; Berry warns students, teachers against 'soldiering on'

| Lottie Twyford
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Yvette Berry at a press conference

Minister for Education Yvette Berry has urged teachers and students not to attend schools with COVID symptoms. Photo: ACT Government.

The Territory has recorded 1221 (657 PCR and 554 RAT) new COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8 pm last night and there are 170 COVID-19 patients in Canberra Hospital requiring care.

Of these, six are in ICU and three are being ventilated.

There were a record 171 people in hospital with the virus yesterday and 887 new cases.

It comes as the Territory’s Education Minister Yvette Berry has warned students and teachers against attending school after testing positive for COVID-19 or experiencing mild symptoms.

“My very clear message is that if you have COVID-19, and even if you have mild symptoms, you should not be coming to school … there’s no need to soldier on,” Ms Berry said.

“We will work our way through this together as we always have.”

Rapid antigen tests (RATs) are available on an as-needs basis through the Territory’s public schools.

Regular testing is not mandatory.

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Ms Berry has previously acknowledged this term will be difficult as the ACT’s health authorities expect caseloads to double and even triple by the end of July/early August.

The Education Minister said the Directorate continued to work through workload reduction measures for teachers this term to ensure they could continue to deliver high-quality education despite the pressures of the pandemic.

She said the plan for the future would be to replenish the available pool of casual and relief staff so teacher absences could be covered.

Last term, more than 50 school cohorts were sent home to learn remotely as COVID-19 wreaked havoc on usual staffing arrangements, exacerbating an already-existing staffing shortage.

A total of 34 public schools were impacted by remote learning due to the pandemic and almost 40 per cent of these campuses were affected multiple times.

Thirteen public schools were forced to send students home repeatedly. The worst-affected school, Amaroo School, was forced to do so four times.

However, only two schools – Black Mountain School and Macgregor School – had to send their entire student bodies home under the Education Directorate’s plan to manage the most critical levels of shortages.

During the worst weeks, as many as 10 per cent of ACT public schools were required to send students home to learn remotely when daily cases averaged between 850 to 950.

It has been predicted that the ACT could experience between 2000 and 3000 cases a day in the coming weeks.

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There are now 6801 (3779 PCR and 3022 RAT) known active infections in the Territory and a total of 180,072 (107,202 PCR and 72,870 RAT) COVID-19 cases have been recorded since the pandemic began in March 2020.

The double-dose vaccination rate for the ACT’s five-plus population remains 97.4 per cent and 77.7 per cent of residents aged 16 and older have received a booster.

Of ACT residents aged five to 11, 69.7 per cent have received two doses of vaccine.

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Interstate, NSW has reported 26 deaths overnight and 13,544 new cases of COVID-19.

There are now 2205 people in hospital with the virus and 60 people in ICUs around the state.

Victoria has reported 25 deaths overnight and 12,201 cases of COVID-19.

There are now 897 people hospitalised with the virus and 34 patients are in the state’s intensive care units.

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Problem is that symptoms are not always present or get ignored if minor & a lot of parents prefer to have kids at school as for many looking after them at home is not an option if they have to work. But now it is all about personal responsibility (if you show none it is OK – it is only recommended or suggested)

Tom Worthington5:34 pm 19 Jul 22

Good point by Ms Berry about “no need to soldier on”. I suggest universities retain their online option for all classes, meetings and events, at last until the end of 2022. https://blog.highereducationwhisperer.com/2022/07/universities-should-prepare-of-covid-19.html

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