1 February 2022

ACT records 522 cases of COVID-19; unlikely to see public reporting of school exposures this term

| Lottie Twyford
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Erindale College

Unlike last year, ACT Health won’t identify schools identified as COVID-19 exposure sites unless the school is shut down. Photo: Facebook.

The ACT has recorded 522 new cases of COVID-19 in the last reporting period – marking the seventh consecutive day that case numbers have been lower than the previous day. Yesterday, 537 cases were recorded.

There are now 64 people in hospital, including one in intensive care and requiring ventilation.

Yesterday, there were 62 patients in hospital, including two in ICU and one being ventilated.

The latest cases have been identified by 326 positive PCR results and 196 rapid antigen tests, taking the number of active cases in the ACT to 3750 (2442 PCR and 1308 RAT).

All ACT Government testing clinics are open today and ACT Health said turnaround times for results are still between 24 and 48 hours.

The Territory’s 12-plus vaccination rate remains steady at 98.6 per cent.

Almost half (49 per cent) of the Territory’s 18-plus population has now received a booster shot, while almost 70 per cent (69.4 per cent) of the population aged five to 11 has received one dose.

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ACT school students are now all back at school, but authorities have said it’s unlikely every school affected by a COVID-19 closure will be listed publicly on the ACT Health website.

This is in line with new procedures in the community where only those affected by exposure to the virus will be directly notified and health authorities no longer list public exposure sites.

Region Media understands that this information would be reported in the case of a large school outbreak leading to a school closure.

Health and education authorities have developed a tiered system allowing them to manage COVID-19 outbreaks in schools leading to staff shortages.

Only critical staff absences will lead to a school closing for a short period.

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Interstate, NSW has reported 30 deaths overnight and 12,818 new cases (7913 RATs, 4905 PCR).

Hospitalisations remain relatively steady – 2749 compared with 2779 the previous day. There are 183 people in ICUs around the state.

NSW Health says 39.4 per cent of the state’s eligible population has received a booster dose, and 94 per cent of the 16-plus population has received two shots.

The state government has also announced a staggered return of non-urgent elective surgery from 7 February.

In Victoria, 11,311 (7060 RATs and 4251 PCR) new cases have been reported and 34 deaths.

There are now 851 people hospitalised with the virus – down from 873 reported yesterday. Of the state’s 12-plus population, 93 per cent is now fully vaccinated, and 39 per cent of the state’s eligible population has received three doses of the vaccine.

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison will use his address at the National Press Club today to announce two payments of up to $400 each to aged care workers across the country, although the Health Services Union has already slammed the payments as “insulting”.

The payments are intended as “recognition” of the pressure the aged care system is under during the current Omicron wave. It will be available to 234,000 aged care workers who operate in government-subsidised home care and residential aged care.

The scheme will also cover workers who provide direct care, food or cleaning services to elderly clients.

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So why are they still insisting we check in everywhere if they’re not even bothering to publish contact sites? Note: I don’t have a problem with not publishing contact sites – at some point we have to start treating this like any other illness (what other illness do they publish contact sites for, other than perhaps food poisoning?), and that means there should be no need for everyone to “check in” everywhere they go.

While the payments to aged care workers might be appreciated in the short term, the Government (of both persuasions) should have been assisting these important workers over the last few years (and beyond) with sufficient funding and resources to do their work in a safe and sustainable manner. They perform a very important role in keeping our senior members of society (our parents, relatives, friends) secure and comfortable as they get older.

I’m sure if there were not a federal election within the next few months those workers wouldn’t be getting a payment.

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