20 July 2022

ACT records 961 new COVID-19 infections; Minister admits it's the 'worst time' in the pandemic

| Lottie Twyford
Join the conversation
Rachel Stephen-Smith

Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith confirmed the ACT’s health system is experiencing the most pressure since the beginning of the pandemic. Photo: Lottie Twyford.

The ACT has recorded 961 (632 PCR and 329 RAT) new COVID-19 infections in the latest reporting period to 8 pm last night as the Territory’s Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith describes the current situation as the “worst time” in the pandemic for Canberra.

She made the comment in relation to the extreme and sustained pressure currently being experienced at the hospital, which is today coping with 160 COVID-19 patients.

Of these, four are in ICU and two are being ventilated.

Yesterday, there were 170 people requiring care with COVID-19 in the ACT’s hospitals, six people in the ICU and three requiring ventilation.

The record for COVID-19 hospitalisations was reached on Monday (18 July) when 171 positive patients required care.

Ms Stephen-Smith said the hospital and the healthcare workforce were experiencing “extreme strain and pressure”.

“This, for the ACT, is the worst time of the pandemic,” she said.

“We don’t expect this to ease through the winter.”

The Health Minister made clear, as she has before, that the large numbers of active COVID-19 cases coupled with other winter illnesses are not only resulting in increased demand for hospital services but also putting additional staffing pressures on the hospital as people succumb to illness themselves or have caring responsibilities.

On Monday, a Code Yellow was called at the hospital in response to these demands so a Hospital Emergency Operations Centre (HEOC) could be stood up.

Some patients are being moved from the hospital to residential aged care facilities and private hospitals to free up beds at the hospital.

Leanne Castley

Opposition spokesperson for health Leanne Castley is asking the Health Minister to share how she plans to manage the predicted surge in COVID-19 cases. Photo: Region.

The situation has prompted the Canberra Liberals to issue a ‘please explain’ to Ms Stephen-Smith about how she plans to deal with the predicted surge in COVID-19 cases.

Authorities last week said they expect daily caseloads to double and even triple in the coming weeks.

“The Health Minister must share her plans with Canberrans,” Ms Castley said.

“Already elective surgeries have been cancelled, specialist clinics closed on a daily basis and [I] understand ED beds are regularly being closed too.”

Ms Castley has also questioned why the Garran Surge Centre is not being stood up as a COVID-19 emergency overflow department.

It has been used as a Walk-in Centre for COVID-positive patients since January.

READ ALSO Petrol prices have dropped, so are Canberra motorists being gouged at the pump?

There are now 6453 (3669 PCR and 2784 RAT) known active infections in the Territory and a total of 180,969 (107,831 PCR and 73,138 RAT) COVID-19 cases have been recorded since the pandemic began in March 2020.

The double-dose vaccination rate for the ACT’s five-plus population remains 97.4 per cent and 77.7 per cent of residents aged 16 and older have received a booster.

Of ACT residents aged five to 11, 69.7 per cent have received two doses of vaccine.

READ ALSO ‘It was bad enough giving birth to a dead baby’: another traumatic birth experience at Canberra Hospital

Interstate, NSW has reported 20 deaths overnight and 15,352 new cases of COVID-19.

There are now 2236 people in hospital with the virus and 63 people in ICUs around the state.

Victoria has reported 28 deaths overnight and 12,984 cases of COVID-19.

There are now 906 people hospitalised with the virus and 45 patients are in the state’s intensive care units.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Why build a covid surge centre if your not willing to use it in the way it was created. Typical

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.