5 May 2020

ACT records its 100th official case of COVID-19, and ICU worker tests positive

| Dominic Giannini
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Acting Chief Health Officer, Dr Vanessa Johnston

Acting Chief Health Officer Dr Vanessa Johnston has confirmed the ACT’s 100th case of COVID-19. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

The ACT has recorded another case of COVID-19, bringing the Territory’s total of confirmed cases to 100. ACT Health also confirmed that a healthcare worker from the intensive care unit (ICU) at Canberra Hospital has tested positive for the virus.

The new case is a male in his 50s who acquired the disease overseas while the healthcare worker is believed to have acquired the virus from a close household contact who had recently returned from overseas.

The healthcare worker tested positive for the virus late this morning and so was not included in today’s updated figures. The healthcare worker is unofficially the ACT’s 101st case.

The close household contact has been tested for the virus and is awaiting results. There is still no evidence of community transmission in the ACT, Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said.

Acting ACT Chief Health Officer Dr Vanessa Johnston said the worker was in contact with a small number of other staff and one patient who had already been confirmed positive for COVID-19.

It is unlikely that the worker acquired COVID-19 from the patient and the small number of exposed staff are now isolating, CEO of Canberra Health Services Bernadette McDonald said.

The worker immediately self-isolated after noticing mild symptoms, which Ms McDonald has attributed to hospital procedures working.

“This is a demonstration of our staff members knowing exactly what they needed to do,” she said.

Three patients remain in hospital across Canberra and two of these cases are in the ICU. The remainder are self-isolating at home with the help of ACT Health. More than half of the 100 cases identified in the ACT have recovered.

Dr Johnston said although the curve is beginning to flatten, Canberrans cannot slacken physical distancing measures over Easter.

“As I have said all this week, please stay home this Easter long weekend. Do not travel to the coast or interstate or gather in large groups with family and friends,” Dr Johnston said.

“If you do need to go out for essential reasons, then complying with the rules on physical distancing and practicing good hand and respiratory hygiene are the most important tools in slowing the spread of COVID-19.

“I also encourage Canberrans to find new ways to connect with their loved ones over this Easter period. People all around the world are using technology to stay socially connected during this pandemic and this can be a great way to keep in touch with your family and friends when you can’t physically visit.”

To date, two deaths have been recorded in the ACT and 5802 tests have been negative. New location data will be posted to the ACT COVID-19 website this afternoon. It includes all information about the health and economic response to the pandemic in the ACT.

The ACT Government has also established a new helpline to assist Canberrans through the challenges of COVID-19. To access the COVID-19 Helpline, call 02 6207 7244 between 8:00 am and 8:00 pm daily.

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Last week there was a person in the ACT who contracted the virus from an unknown source. Has there been any progress in finding the source of this person’s infection?

Having spent a night as a patient in ICU at Canberra Hospital, I’d just like to say that the staff are absolute angels. I thank them all.

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