8 February 2022

Almost 500 new COVID-19 cases as ACT records another death, extends public health emergency

| Lottie Twyford
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Qantas plane

The country’s international borders will be open once more on 21 February. Photo: Supplied.

The ACT has recorded another death with COVID-19 in the latest reporting period. A man in his 70s has become the 30th casualty since the pandemic began.

Case numbers have jumped to almost 500 today – a day after the Federal Government announced Australia will reopen to the world on 21 February.

Meanwhile, the ACT Government has also announced the public health emergency – scheduled to end on 12 February – will be extended for another 90 days as expected. Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith signed the extension yesterday.

The ACT has been in a continuous public health emergency since 21 March 2020, although work is ongoing on specific legislation that would allow the ACT to manage the pandemic once this emergency comes to an end.

There are now 55 people in hospital, including one in intensive care and one requiring ventilation.

Yesterday, there were 57 patients in hospital, including two in ICU and one being ventilated.

The 495 new cases have been identified by 264 positive PCR results and 231 rapid antigen tests, taking the number of active cases in the ACT to 1369 (1259 PCR and 1110 RAT).

The ACT’s full vaccination rate is stable at 98.6 per cent, while 74.4 per cent of residents aged 5 to 11 have received one dose.

Over half (56.3 per cent) of residents aged 16 and over have received a booster dose.

All of the ACT’s PCR testing clinics have minimal wait times – less than 30 minutes at each – and turnaround times for test results are also short.

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Yesterday, the Federal Government announced Australia’s international borders would reopen to fully vaccinated visa holders, including tourists, later this month (21 February) – almost two years after borders first closed.

“If you’re double vaccinated, we look forward to welcoming you back,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

Unvaccinated travellers will still need to apply for an exemption to enter the country.

However, Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith said this morning that she did not yet think it was likely international flights would recommence from Canberra Aiport soon.

Ms Stephen-Smith said it was her understanding the airport had some way to go before it reached pre-pandemic levels of flights.

She said the arrival of increasing numbers of international arrivals would likely have two major consequences in Canberra – it would mean the ACT would be more exposed to new variants and the flu season this winter would likely be worse than the two previous seasons.

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Interstate, case numbers are remaining stable as hospitalisations continue to fall.

NSW has reported 18 deaths overnight and 9690 new cases (6810 RAT and 2880 PCR).

There are 2068 people in hospital and 132 people in ICUs around the state.

Victoria has reported 20 deaths overnight and an additional 9785 cases of COVID-19 from 7216 RATs and 2569 PCR tests.

There are now 575 people hospitalised with the virus – down from 638 yesterday.

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