12 November 2021

Public Health Direction extended as ACT records 15 new COVID-19 cases, new school exposure

| David Murtagh
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Monash Primary School

Monash Primary School is the latest school to be added to the exposure sites list. Photo: Monash Primary School Facebook.

The ACT has recorded 15 new cases of COVID-19 to 8 pm last night, bringing the total of active cases in the Territory to 154.

Yesterday there were nine cases.

According to ACT Health, 96.0 per cent of the ACT’s 12-plus population is fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, as foreshadowed some weeks ago by Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith, the ACT Government has today extended the Public Health Emergency Direction by another three months until 12 February 2022.

The declaration affords the ACT Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman additional powers to take action or give any direction necessary to keep the community safe during the pandemic.

ACT Health has also made amendments to the rules around returning to the ACT from high-risk areas.

From 11:59 pm tonight (12 November), anyone who has spent time in a high-risk geographical area in the previous 14 days and is seeking to enter the ACT must seek an exemption from ACT Health.

Conditions that are applied to the exemption will be dependent on the vaccination status of the travellers. Further information is available from covid19.act.gov.au.

Another Canberra school has been listed as a COVID-19 exposure location, while the dates of exposure at Orana Steiner School have been expanded.

Monash Primary School was exposed to the virus on Monday, 8 November.

Anyone who is classed a close contact and is required to quarantine has, or will receive, direct correspondence from ACT Health or the school.

Orana Steiner School is now a COVID-19 exposure location from Monday, 8 November to Wednesday, 10 November.

Previously, it was only listed on Monday, 1 November, Tuesday, 2 November and Thursday, 4 November.

A growing list of exposure sites across the city has seen more nightlife venues in the city added as exposure locations, along with gyms in Tuggeranong and Gungahlin.

Club Lime Gunghalin Platinum (Main Gym Area Only) has been listed as a close contact site for 7 November from 7:15 am to 8:30 am.

The Gungahlin General Practice and Saigon Fresh have also been listed as casual contact exposure sites.

See the exposure locations page for more details and specific exposure times and instructions to follow as a close or casual contact.

NSW has recorded 286 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8 pm last night, and two deaths.

There are currently 236 COVID-19 cases admitted to hospital, with 34 people in intensive care, 15 of whom require ventilation.

About 90.6 per cent of the 16-plus population is fully vaccinated.

Yesterday there were 261 cases and one death.

Victoria has recorded 1115 new cases and nine deaths.

Yesterday, there were 1313 new locally acquired cases and four deaths.

About 86 per cent of Victorians aged 12-plus are fully vaccinated.

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What is missing from this article, however noted in the Canberra Times article today, is the following:

‘The ACT Public Health Emergency Declaration has been extended until February 12 2022.
The extension comes “in recognition of the ongoing case numbers of COVID-19 in the ACT” and will support the updated public health directions from Friday, according to ACT Health.
The declaration gives ACT chief health officer Kerryn Coleman special powers to take any action or give any direction that may be necessary to keep the community safe’.

For a jurisdiction that claims to be guided by rights based and progressive principles, extending emergency powers without review or justification of need does not really align with this narrative.

Other progressive jurisdictions who also base their responses within a rights based framework have ended their governments having such powers, a number of months ago now- such as Denmark, which has more cases and lower vaccination rates.

Why is the current government granting themselves emergency powers when case numbers remain low and vaccination rates are high, are we still in an emergency?

A fundamental principle of government is proportionality, are extended emergency powers proportional to the position we are in now? Has it not moved from a health emergency issue to a health management issue?

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