21 January 2022

ACT records two deaths, 826 new COVID cases; Omicron may have peaked in the ACT

| Lottie Twyford
Start the conversation
COVID-19 testing.

The COVID-19 testing clinics will return to PCR tests as supply issues have eased. Photo: ACT Health.

The ACT has recorded two new deaths with COVID-19 overnight, taking the total number of deaths recorded in the Territory to 22.

Consistent with current modelling suggesting the ACT has now reached the peak of the Omicron wave, case numbers have once fallen again today to 826, from 892 yesterday.

However, the two deaths are a sobering reminder of the impacts of the pandemic. A man in his 60s and a man in his 90s have both died with COVID-19 in the last reporting period.

ACT Health has extended its sincere condolences to their families and friends.

Once again, there are 62 people in hospital, including two in intensive care and one requiring ventilation, compared with 62 reported yesterday, including three in ICU and two being ventilated.

In a statement released after National Cabinet met yesterday, Chief Minister Andrew Barr said that more than half of the COVID-19 positive inpatients are in hospital for a reason other than COVID-19.

“In recent days, COVID-19-specific admissions have eased from eight per day to five per day,” Mr Barr said.

Region Media understands Canberra Health Services is dealing with another outbreak similar to that which occurred on the infectious diseases ward. This time, it’s the renal ward affected.

Two wards are now in lockdown because of COVID-19 leaks.

The latest case numbers come from 259 positive PCR results and 567 rapid antigen tests, taking the number of active cases in the ACT to 5647 (1463 PCR and 4184 RAT).

It’s expected case numbers will take weeks to decrease, although internal Canberra Health Services modelling says the ACT has reached the peak of its Omicron wave.

In the last week, around 44,000 rapid antigen tests were distributed to Canberrans at the Kambah, Mitchell and Garran testing centres while 10,000 PCRs were conducted over the same period.

However, testing clinics will now focus on conducting PCR tests as supplies have returned to near-normal levels.

ACT Health said turnaround times have also dropped to less than 24 hours.

Supply constraints have led ACT Health to “conserve” usage of RATs until more testing kits can be secured.

The Garran testing clinic will be open today until 9 pm tonight, Mitchell until 10 pm, and Nicholls and Holt until 4 pm.

Kambah is closed.

Some rapid antigen tests may be offered to people at Mitchell and Garran if they meet the criteria, but they will only be able to obtain one kit due to supply constraints.

Over the weekend, Garran (7:30 am to 9 pm), Mitchell (1:30 pm to 9 pm), Kambah (8 am to 4 pm) and Nicholls (8 am to 4 pm) will be open.

Testing clinic arrangements for next week will be determined based on available supply and ACT Health will have more details soon.

The ACT’s 12-plus vaccination rate remains constant at 98.6 per cent.

Over a third of those aged 18 and over have now received a booster shot (36.4 per cent), while 41.7 per cent of the population aged five to 11 have received one dose.

READ ALSO Getting Omicron has been way worse than I expected

An announcement from the ACT Government regarding the return to school this year had been expected today, although that has been pushed back until next week.

While it’s expected students will return to school on time, it is unclear how rapid antigen tests will be used and whether adequate RAT supply can be secured.

The Commonwealth has agreed to split the cost of rapid antigen tests in schools on a 50-50 basis with states and territories, but the states and territories need to acquire supplies.

Mr Barr said yesterday the ACT Government is now looking at “additional protections”, including the “provision of rapid antigen testing for teachers and students”.

“This also includes discussions with NSW and Victoria to ensure test supply and as much consistency between the jurisdictions as possible,” Mr Barr said.

But the government hasn’t yet confirmed how RATs will be used – as a surveillance program or as part of a test to stay regime.

READ ALSO Pharmacists under pressure as date for free concessional RATs draws near

Interstate, NSW has reported its deadliest day of the pandemic with 46 COVID-19 deaths reported overnight.

The previous highest number of deaths recorded in a single day was 36.

Hospitalisations have also dropped to 2743 from 2781 the previous day. There are 209 people in ICUs around the state.

A total of 25,168 new cases were reported (10,015 RATs, 15,153 PCR).

NSW Health says nearly 30 per cent of the state’s eligible population has received a booster dose, and 93.8 per cent of the 16-plus population has received two shots.

In Victoria, 18,167 (8144 RATs and 10,023 PCR) new cases have been reported, as well as 20 deaths.

There are now 1096 people hospitalised with the virus – down from 1206 reported yesterday – and 93 per cent of the state’s 12-plus population is now fully vaccinated.

In Victoria, 28 per cent of the state’s population has received three doses of the vaccine.

Start the conversation

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.