UPDATED 2:45 pm: Visitor restrictions at ACT hospitals will be relaxed slightly from tomorrow (16 February) to allow each patient two visitors per day.
Only one visitor will be permitted at a time, however, and while there is no requirement for visitors to be vaccinated, it is strongly recommended.
Visitors to Canberra hospitals have been banned since Boxing Day when restrictions were reintroduced amid concerns about skyrocketing daily caseloads due to the introduction of the Omicron variant to the Territory.
ACT Health said the decision to ease restrictions follows careful consideration of the current COVID-19 situation in the Territory, but visitors to clinical areas where patients are at higher risk of severe disease will still need to apply directly to the health facility for an exemption.
Patients who need assistance to access hospital care can continue to be supported by their carer. Visitors per day can be in addition to active participants in care.
For admitted children and young people, two parents or carers can attend together, although only one parent or carer can stay overnight.
Women admitted for care related to birthing can have two support people. However, only one support person may attend the operating theatre for a caesarean section.
Compassionate exceptions to this visitor guidance will continue to be determined on a case-by-case basis and in consultation with the treating team. Children under five years of age should avoid visiting health facilities, where possible.
All visitors to ACT health facilities must also continue to complete the ACT health facilities digital screening tool and wear a surgical face mask at all times while in the health facility, unless directed by the clinical area to wear a hospital-approved N95 mask.
12:30 pm: A total of 455 new cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in the ACT overnight as the latest epidemiological report from ACT Health shows the test positivity rate (PCR only) has fallen to 13 per cent as of 6 February.
At the peak of the Omicron outbreak in early January, almost one in three PCR tests were positive for the virus. It’s impossible to gauge a test positivity rate for rapid antigen tests as people are not required to register a negative result.
ACT Health also confirmed that case numbers continue to decline gradually following the rapid increase observed between late December and early January. Between 31 January and 6 February, case numbers fell 40 per cent compared to the previous week.
Around 85 per cent of all COVID-19 cases in the Territory have been reported in 2022, and although Omicron has taken over as the dominant strain of the virus, there are still cases of Delta in the community and in hospital. Five people have been hospitalised in the ACT with Delta since 1 January.
According to the report, the first week of school did not lead to widespread transmission among students, although it noted if this does happen, it’s more likely to be observed in weeks two and three of school.
On 6 February, the number of cases in the 18 to 44-year-old age group, which has consistently had the highest case rate since mid-December 2021, fell below the zero to 17-year-old age group for the first time. There were 100 cases per 100,000 in the former group and 112 per 100,000 in the latter.
The next detailed update is due to be released on Friday (18 February).
With the additional 455 (218 PCR, 237 RAT) new cases of COVID-19, there are now 2426 (1202 PCR, 1224 RAT) active cases in the ACT.
There are now 49 people in hospital, including four in intensive care and two being ventilated.
The vaccination rate for the ACT’s 12-plus population remains 98.6 per cent, and 61.4 per cent of residents aged 16 and older have received a booster.
Of ACT residents aged 5 to 11, 76.2 per cent have received one dose.
Interstate case numbers remain stable and hospitalisations continue to fall.
NSW has reported 16 deaths overnight and 8201 new cases (6741 RAT and 1460 PCR).
There are now 1583 people in hospital and 96 people in ICUs around the state.
Victoria has reported 20 deaths overnight and an additional 8162 cases of COVID-19 from 6128 RATs and 2034 PCR tests.
There are now 441 people hospitalised with the virus in the state.