22 October 2020

UPDATED: Canberra records first COVID-19 case in three months

| Kim Treasure and Dominic Giannini
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Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman is leading ACT efforts to combat COVID-19. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

The ACT has recorded its first new case of COVID-19 in more than three months, but it is believed to have been contracted overseas and the man has been in quarantine since his return.

The foreign diplomat in his 70s returned from overseas on 9 October. He flew into Sydney International Airport and travelled to Canberra by private vehicle. He did not stop en route to the ACT and has been quarantining since his return.

ACT Health says they have identified two potential contacts but have not made contact with them as of midday Thursday (22 October). The Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman refused to confirm whether the diplomat drove himself to Canberra or was chauffeured.

Diplomats are exempt from the hotel quarantine program. Around 20 to 25 per cent of the 276 people who are currently quarantining in Canberra are diplomats, Dr Coleman said.

The case comes just over two weeks after ACT Health reported that a COVID-19 positive woman in her 30s transited through Canberra Airport on 7 October. No positive cases have resulted from the layover so far, Dr Coleman confirmed.

READ MORE Positive COVID-19 passenger transits through Canberra Airport

Dr Coleman said that there was no increased risk of transmission from the movement of staff within a diplomatic residence.

“We do the same assessment for diplomats as we do for anyone else who is going into home quarantine,” she said. “If they have family or staff who have quarantined with them, then they are subject to exactly the same quarantine rules.”

It would also not impact Dr Coleman’s decision to progress with the easing of restrictions in the ACT.

“This is a demonstration that our quarantine program is doing exactly what we want it to do. These are not the cases we are concerned about. The cases we are concerned about are the ones that are locally acquired or potentially evidence of community transmission.

“But it is another timely reminder that COVID-19 still poses a risk to the ACT and the situation can change quickly.”

There are no COVID-19 cases in Canberra Hospitals and 110 people in the ACT have recovered from the virus.

Three people have died from COVID-19 in the ACT.

The number of negative tests now stands at 103,205.

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