9 December 2022

COVID-19 cases on the rise again as ACT records five pandemic deaths

| Lottie Twyford
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nurse holding a covid test

COVID-19 cases have continued to rise in the Territory for the seventh week in a row. Photo: Canberra Health Services.

Weekly COVID-19 cases have risen for the seventh week in a row and five people have died with the virus.

A man in his 70s, a man in his 80s and a woman in her 80s have died in the last week, while an additional two deaths of a man in his 60s and a man in his 80s are being reported from previous weeks.

Those casualties bring the ACT’s pandemic death toll to 135.

Cases in the seven days to Thursday, 8 December, jumped to 2610 infections (870 PCR and 1740 RAT) compared with 2239 last week.

Hospitalisations with the virus have almost doubled over a week – up from last week’s 33 to 58.

Of these, three were in intensive care.

Since March 2020, there have been 218,698 COVID-19 infections in Canberra.

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A new report has linked two-thirds of the excess deaths in the country in the first eight months of this year to COVID-19.

According to the Actuaries Institute’s COVID-19 mortality working group, there were 15,400 excess deaths from January to August 2022 – 13 per cent more than had been predicted.

It’s estimated 8200 of those deaths were directly due to COVID-19, 2100 had the virus as a contributory cause and the remaining 5100 had no link.

Karen Cutter, a spokesperson for the working group, said the ACT had fewer excess deaths than the larger states, which was attributed to its relatively young and affluent population.

Western Australia was also protected, although this was attributed to the delayed reopening of the state’s borders.

Ms Cutter said that even when all COVID-19 deaths were removed from the data, there was still “significant excess mortality” for the year.

Those deaths were mainly attributed to heart disease, cancer and cerebrovascular disease. Diabetes deaths were also higher than expected throughout the pandemic.

Deaths from respiratory disease have been significantly lower than expected throughout the pandemic, except for the short (and early) flu season in June/July 2022, the group’s report read.

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Weekly epidemiological reports no longer provide details about repeat infections nor PCR test positivity results.

Locally, the subvariant BA.5 remains the most frequently sequenced Omicron subvariant.

But other subvariants continue to be detected, something ACT Health said is consistent with national and international trends.

COVID-19 vaccination rates remain stagnant in the Territory as they have done for months.

As of yesterday, 76.8 per cent of people aged five to 15 have had two doses; 78.6 per cent of those aged 16-plus have had three jabs and 64.7 per cent of those eligible over 50 have had the full four doses.

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Cases are also continuing to rise in other jurisdictions.

NSW recorded 40,194 new infections in the past week and 48 people died with the virus.

Deaths and cases both jumped when compared with the week prior.

There are now 1526 COVID-19 patients in the state’s hospitals and 40 people in ICU.

Victoria recorded 27,790 cases and 85 pandemic-related deaths.

The state’s seven-day rolling average for hospitalisations was 682 patients with 28 people in the ICU.

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