A man in his 80s has become the latest person to die with COVID-19 in the ACT, taking the Territory’s pandemic death toll to 26.
ACT Health has also recorded 734 new cases of COVID-19 overnight as authorities re-evaluate how the Check In CBR app can be a useful tool in the future.
There are now 66 people in hospital, including five in intensive care and one requiring ventilation.
Yesterday, there were 73 patients in hospital, including four in ICU and one being ventilated.
In a statement released after National Cabinet yesterday, Chief Minister Andrew Barr said COVID-19 hospital numbers have now stabilised at around 70.
“The ACT has likely now reached the peak of this outbreak and should start to see a gradual decrease in hospitalisation in the coming weeks,” Mr Barr said.
Still, more than half of all COVID-19 positive patients in hospital have been admitted for another reason. Many are asymptomatic or experiencing only mild symptoms, the Chief Minister said.
“In recent days, COVID-19-specific admissions have stabilised at three to four per day. It remains a consistent trend that those patients requiring an ICU admission, and mechanical ventilation, are largely unvaccinated,” Mr Barr’s statement read.
The ACT is preparing for another peak of COVID-19 to arrive this winter in combination with the annual flu season.
There were 884 new cases reported yesterday.
A total of 15,865 PCR tests have been conducted in the past week. The test positivity rate is approximately one in six, falling from one in three at the peak of the outbreak.
As supplies of rapid antigen tests begin to increase, particularly as they are distributed to schools, authorities expect “significantly more asymptomatic COVID cases will be identified as a result”.
However, Mr Barr said it’s likely to be some weeks before supply exceeds demand.
The latest cases have been identified by 478 positive PCR results and 256 rapid antigen tests, taking the number of active cases in the ACT to 4744 (2952 PCR and 1792 RAT).
All ACT Government testing clinics are open today and ACT Health said turnaround times for results are now between 24 and 48 hours.
The ACT’s 12-plus vaccination rate remains 98.6 per cent.
Over 40 per cent of those aged 18 and over have now received a booster shot (44.9 per cent), while over 60 per cent (63.3 per cent) of the population aged five to 11 has received one dose.
Mr Barr said the ACT continues to lead the nation in vaccination.
“Now is the time for Canberrans to get their booster. It is the best defence against the Omicron variant by reducing the risk of serious illness as well as reducing transmission and disease,” he said.
Now that Pfizer boosters for 16 to 17 year-olds have been granted provisional approval, Mr Barr said this cohort will soon be added to the booster program.
Meanwhile, the number of people checking in is beginning to fall as, for the most part, ACT Health has stopped using the app to contact trace or notify businesses of infection risks.
In November 2021, a total of 20,965,249 check-ins were recorded. In December, this fell to 19,535,190, but between 1 January and 25 January, only 11,024,921 check-ins have been reported.
A spokesperson for ACT Health said people are still encouraged to use the app to “assist with their own tracking of movement which is helpful if they become a confirmed case to notify those around them in their social and workplace settings”.
But, “ACT Health is considering how Check In CBR can continue to be a useful tool moving forward”.
The lower numbers of check-ins may be a result of people choosing to limit their movement due to the spread of Omicron.
Many people will also be in quarantine after being identified as COVID-19 cases or as close contacts.
Interstate, NSW has reported 35 deaths overnight and 13,333 new cases (7077 RATs, 6256 PCR).
Hospitalisations remain relatively steady – 2737 compared with 2722 the previous day. There are 189 people in ICUs around the state.
NSW Health says 36.4 per cent of the state’s eligible population has received a booster dose, and 93.9 per cent of the 16-plus population has received two shots.
In Victoria, 12,755 (7410 RATs and 5345 PCR) new cases have been reported, as well as 39 deaths.
There are now 988 people hospitalised with the virus – down from 1057 reported yesterday. Of the state’s 12-plus population, 93 per cent is now fully vaccinated and 35 per cent of the state’s eligible population has received three doses of the vaccine.