31 January 2022

ACT records 537 new cases of COVID-19, government encourages booster take-up

| Lottie Twyford
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ais vaccination clinic

ACT authorities are encouraging Canberrans to get out and get their booster as soon as they become eligible. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The ACT has recorded 537 new cases of COVID-19 in the last reporting period as authorities urge eligible Canberrans to come forward for their booster dose.

It is the sixth consecutive day that case numbers have been lower than the previous day.

There are now 62 people in hospital, including two in intensive care and one requiring ventilation.

Yesterday, there were 62 patients in hospital, including three in ICU and one being ventilated. There were 584 new cases reported yesterday.

The latest cases have been identified by 331 positive PCR results and 206 rapid antigen tests, taking the number of active cases in the ACT to 4175 (2730 PCR and 8405 RAT).

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

It’s expected case numbers will begin to rise as schools return and the increased use of rapid antigen tests means more asymptomatic cases are detected.

READ ALSO ACT extends ‘low-level’ public health measures for another month

Meanwhile, the Territory’s 12-plus vaccination rate remains steady at 98.6 per cent.

Almost half (47.6 per cent) of those aged 18 and over have now received a booster shot, while almost 70 per cent (68.1 per cent) of the population aged five to 11 has received one dose.

Last week, then-Acting Minister for Health Chris Steel urged all eligible Canberrans to come forward for their booster doses.

“We’ve seen the ACT have the uptake of booster shots across Australia,” Mr Steel said on Friday. “However, this is still lower than we were projecting, and we still do want to see many more people come forward to take up their booster shot – it is the best protection they have against serious disease.”

Appointments for booster doses are available at ACT Government vaccination clinics as early as today and tomorrow, and GPs and pharmacies are also delivering booster shots.

Mr Steel said nobody had a “real excuse” not to get a booster dose now appointments are readily available.

Authorities don’t know why the take-up of boosters has been slower than for the first two shots but hope the program may pick up speed now that people are back from holidays and returning to routines such as school and work.

“The message is: before you return to work, get your booster,” Mr Steel said.

Sixteen and 17 year-olds will be added to the booster dose program as soon as all approvals are granted. Priority booster appointments are available at the Canberra Airport vaccination clinic for health, aged care, community service support, disability care workers, teachers, education staff, and early childhood education and care workers.

The nationwide shift to becoming eligible for a booster three months post-second dose came into effect today. This has already been in place in the ACT since 19 January.

READ ALSO Here’s what you need to know about 2022’s school rules

Interstate, NSW has reported 27 deaths overnight and 13,026 new cases (5664 RATs, 7362 PCR).

Hospitalisations remain relatively steady – 2779 compared with 2663 the previous day. There are 185 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.

As of yesterday, four cases of the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron had been detected in the state.

In Victoria, 10,053 (6485 RATs and 3568 PCR) new cases have been reported, as well as eight deaths.

There are now 873 people hospitalised with the virus – down from 889 reported yesterday. Of the state’s 12-plus population, 93 per cent is now fully vaccinated, and 38 per cent of the state’s eligible population has received three doses of the vaccine.

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