ACT Health is attempting to trace suburban bus passengers who may have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 last week and is asking for public assistance.
Seven new cases of coronavirus have been announced in the Territory this afternoon. The new cases include two males and five females, aged between 21 and 75.
ACT Health says that the seven new cases are all linked to overseas travel and contact tracing is taking place. Flight details will be uploaded to the ACT Health website.
But health officials are also trying to trace passengers on a bus last Tuesday when a previously confirmed case caught the number 31 bus from Dickson Interchange to Kaleen.
When asked whether this was the Lyneham High student who tested positive, Acting Director Communicable Disease Control Section of ACT Health Dr Vanessa Johnston said she could not comment on individual cases but number 31 left Dickson about 3:50 pm on Tuesday, 17 March. This bus was scheduled to leave Dickson interchange at 3:33 pm but was running late and departed at 3:50 pm.
Passengers who were on this bus should self-quarantine until 31 March and contact the Communicable Disease Control Section of ACT Health on 5124 9213 for more information.
Dr Johnston said ACT Health was advised of the confirmed case’s bus travel yesterday afternoon.
She said there was still no evidence of community transmission in the ACT.
There have been 2780 negative COVID-19 tests in the ACT to date. There are currently three COVID-19 patients in a stable condition in Canberra hospitals. The rest are isolating at home with ACT Health support.
At least one of them is a passenger from another cruise ship other than the Ruby Princess.
Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said the ACT would not be stopping travellers from overseas returning to the ACT.
“That’s part of our responsibility, to ensure our residents and citizens who are part of our community can can come home if they’ve been overseas,” she said.
“We would not be requiring people to stay in Sydney or Melbourne, whatever the port of arrival is, and not be able to come home to Canberra.
“And we certainly wouldn’t be doing that just for the reason that we don’t want to have someone in the ACT in self-quarantine who comes back.”
Ms Stephen-Smith said the number of close contacts of those cases had been very small.
The Minister also flagged cuts to elective surgeries to free up hospital capacity along the lines being announced elsewhere.
“Around the country, jurisdictions have moved to reduce the number of category 2 and 3 elective surgeries in order to create capacity within their hospital systems, but also to enable staff to prepare for what could be a very significant impact if we start to see widespread community transmission of COVID-19 in Australia.
“We are moving in that direction,” she said, saying patients could expect to be contacted in coming days.