ACT Health is using data from the Check In CBR app to contact trace for the first time as authorities race to alert Canberrans who may have been to two exposure sites over the long weekend.
The National Gallery of Australia and Via Dolce Pasticceria have been identified as potential exposure sites after a man in his 40s from Sydney’s north-western suburbs visited the ACT on Monday (14 June).
Anyone who visited the Botticelli to Van Gogh exhibition and gift shop at the gallery on Monday, 14 June from 12:00 pm to 1:45 pm or visited Via Dolce Pasticceria on Bunda Street from 2:45 pm to 3:15 pm has been asked to self isolate immediately.
People who visited those locations during those periods must isolate until further advised by ACT Health, get a COVID-19 test, and fill in the declaration form on the ACT COVID-19 website.
The man is the fourth NSW case linked to a cluster in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. Eight close contacts and one casual contact are quarantining in the ACT after visiting exposure locations in Sydney over the long weekend.
Exposure locations have now been identified in Bondi Junction, Castle Hill, North Ryde, Redfern, Zetland and Vaucluse. A full list of exposure sites can be found on the NSW Health website.
Canberrans who travelled to Sydney over the long weekend are being urged to regularly check new exposure locations and follow the relevant protocols if they have been to an exposure site.
ACT Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said that the man had returned both positive and negative results for different tests, with authorities remaining unsure if the man is actually a positive case.
Despite the man’s low viral load – meaning he was not highly infectious – authorities are acting cautiously and treating the case as a positive one, Dr Coleman said.
“I can understand that this might be causing a bit of confusion in the community,” Dr Coleman said. “We are not 100 per cent sure that it is a case but we cannot exclude the fact that it is.
“There are a couple of options in that it may be an old infection, or it may be reacting to some other virus that he has in his system at the moment.
“We have all agreed that it is better to be overly cautious than under respond to this case.”
There is no need for the NGA to undergo a deep clean as the virus does not live on surfaces for extended periods of time and the man visited the gallery on Monday, Dr Coleman said.
Rigorous COVID-safe protocols are already in place at the NGA, she said.
Authorities currently have the raw data from the Check In CBR app and NGA ticket sales, and tracers are working through it to identify possible close contacts.
As of this morning, 120 declaration forms have been completed and 100 people have called the ACT’s contact tracing centre.
No close contacts have been identified at this stage, but this is expected to change as people continue to come forward throughout the day, Dr Coleman said.
There has been an increase in the number of people presenting at testing clinics across the ACT. Weston Creek is experiencing a surge in demand. Daily testing numbers in the ACT usually sit around the 400 mark. Fifty more people than usual presented this morning.
ACT Health is monitoring testing sites to see if further sites need to be stood up or if current sites can use their surge capacity to meet demand.
Extra staff have already been brought on board at the EPIC and Weston Creek testing centres this morning.
For more information about COVID-19 and ACT health alerts, visit www.covid19.act.gov.au.