23 March 2022

ACT records 1314 new COVID-19 infections; school RAT distribution to be scaled back

| Lottie Twyford
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rats being packed into the back of a car

RATs will still be available through schools if there is an uptick in cases. Photo: ACT Government.

Overnight, the ACT has recorded another 1314 new cases of COVID-19, yesterday there were 1014 cases.

The ACT Government said it would stop its rapid antigen tests (RAT) distribution program to schools, but they will still be available to students and staff on an as-needed basis if cases increase.

Early childhood staff will also have continued access to RATs under the same distribution arrangements.

For the first eight weeks of first term, all school staff and students were given two free RATs per week.

The rollout to schools had been met with mixed feedback, with some parents saying picking them up had posed a logistical challenge as they had to leave work and queue for significant amounts of time.

In response to this feedback, RATs were then handed out to students to bring home themselves in their school bags – as had been the case in Catholic and independent schools from the start of the program.

Minister for Education Yvette Berry said every school will have processes in place to ensure families, teachers and volunteers have RATs readily accessible on request should they need them.

“Schools will communicate directly with families about how they can access RATs for the remainder of the term,” she said.

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Locally, there are 42 patients in ACT hospitals with COVID-19. Of these, three are in ICU, with one requiring ventilation.

Yesterday, there were 38 people in hospital and three in intensive care, with one requiring ventilation.

The double-dose vaccination rate for the ACT’s five-plus population is currently 96.7 per cent, and 72.0 per cent of residents aged 16 and older have received a booster.

Of ACT residents aged five to 11, 38.7 per cent had received two doses.

Since the pandemic began, 69,419 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the ACT (45,525 PCR and 23,894 RAT).

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Interstate, NSW has reported five deaths overnight and 24,115 new cases.

There are now 1162 people in hospital with the virus and 44 people in ICUs around the state.

Victoria has reported 11 new deaths overnight and an additional 10,471 cases of COVID-19.

There are now 243 people hospitalised with the virus, while 23 patients are in the state’s intensive care units.

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