17 December 2021

UPDATED: Positive hospital case was triple-vaccinated, no patient contact; ACT records highest caseload in a month

| Lottie Twyford
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Garran Surge Centre, COVID-19, Coronavirus, ACT Health, nurse Photo: Michelle Kroll

The staff member at the hospital who tested positive for the virus was triple-vaccinated. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

UPDATED 2 pm: The staff member who tested positive for COVID-19 at The Canberra Hospital was fully vaccinated, and had a booster dose, and did not have any contact with patients or members of the public while in the workplace.

The staff member works for the Specimen Reception Team in pathology and tested positive overnight.

A preliminary assessment indicates the person was exposed to the virus while in Sydney last weekend, a spokesperson for Canberra Health Services has confirmed this afternoon.

The spokesperson said they were possibly infectious while at work on Tuesday, 14 December, and Thursday, 16 December.

It’s unknown whether the person has contracted the Omicron or the Delta variant of COVID-19, but genomic sequencing is underway.

Co-workers are being notified of the case and risk assessments are underway.

“Additional staff are being rostered to minimise any impact on services,” the spokesperson said.

Canberra Hospital

A staff member at Canberra Hospital has tested positive for COVID-19. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

11:15 am: The ACT has recorded 20 new COVID-19 infections in the last reporting period to 8 pm last night, and staff at the Canberra Hospital and Parliament House have tested positive for the virus.

Twenty confirmed cases is the highest number of new daily infections in the ACT in a month.

Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith has this morning confirmed a staff member at the Canberra Hospital has tested positive for COVID-19.

The staff member is a receptionist working in pathology and tested positive overnight, which could delay COVID-19 test results.

“A number of staff members are having to isolate so we’re working really closely with private pathology companies to see what assistance they can provide,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.

Region Media has received unconfirmed reports of multiple hospital staff members testing positive for the virus.

Yesterday, it was announced that a fully vaccinated staff member from the office of the Federal Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor has tested positive for COVID-19.

The staff member worked at Parliament House.

According to a statement released by his office, “the staff member is upbeat about spending Christmas Day in isolation”.

Mr Taylor has since returned a negative COVID-19 test.

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Locally, with the 20 additional cases, there are now 75 active cases in the Territory. To 9 am this morning, 2152 negative test results were recorded.

Of the Territory’s 12-plus population, 98.3 per cent are now fully vaccinated.

There are a total of four active and cleared cases in ACT hospitals as of 8 pm yesterday. None are in intensive care and no one is on a ventilator in the ACT.

Yesterday, the ACT recorded 11 new cases of COVID-19 and another bumper day of testing. By midday, over 2500 COVID-19 tests had been conducted.

Today will be the last day of operation for the testing centre at EPIC. Tomorrow morning, a new centre will open at 2 Tooth Street in Mitchell.

Wait times of up to four hours were recorded at EPIC yesterday, which led Ms Stephen-Smith to urge Canberrans to only get tested if needed and monitor ACT Health’s social media for updated wait times.

Demand for testing has surged recently, partly driven by a need for tests to travel interstate.

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Hospitality venues have once again dominated the new exposure sites added to the ACT Government’s COVID-19 website.

All are deemed casual exposure sites.

On Saturday, 11 December, PJs in the City is listed between 5:35 pm and 10:30 pm, while on Sunday, 12 December, the Duxton is listed between 4 pm and 6 pm.

On Monday, 13 December, the National Press Club of Australia (Club Lounge) is listed between 12:30 pm and 1:45 pm; CBD Dumpling House is listed between 5 pm and 6 pm; Two Sisters Lao Thai Cuisine for 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm; Tasuke Japanese Noodle Place between 12:45 pm and 1:10 pm and the Canberra Rex Hotel (Swan & King Cocktail Bar only) is listed between 4:45 pm and 6 pm.

Caffe Cherry Beans Tuggeranong is listed as a casual contact site on Tuesday, 14 December, between 1:05 pm and 1:40 pm.

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Interstate, new infections in NSW have soared to a record high of 2213 and one death.

It’s the second consecutive day the state has broken its daily caseload record.

There are 215 people in hospitals across the state with the virus and 24 in ICU.

NSW Health said 94.8 per cent of the 16-plus population has received their first dose, and 93.3 per cent has had two doses of vaccine.

Once again, fewer cases have been recorded in Victoria where 1510 new COVID-19 cases and seven deaths were reported overnight.

There are 356 Victorians hospitalised with COVID-19. As of Friday, 92 per cent of the state’s eligible population (12 and over) is fully vaccinated.

Across the entire state, there are 12,578 active cases of the virus.

NSW has brought back the mask mandate for retail settings, public transport and ridesharing.

More to come.

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