4 November 2021

UPDATED: Wanniassa School cluster grows to 26 cases; COVID confirmed at four Tuggeranong school campuses

| Lottie Twyford
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The cluster related to the Wanniassa School has now grown to 26 and other schools in the region have been affected. Photo: File.

UPDATED 2:30 pm: The cluster of cases related to Wanniassa School has grown to 26 as of 8 pm last night, a spokesperson for ACT Health has confirmed.

A pop-up testing clinic has been on site today to complete testing of the entire school community and the Junior Campus will remain closed for the rest of this week.

Education Minister Yvette Berry yesterday issued a plea for the school community to come forward for testing. She also reminded parents in the wider community that students should be taken for a test if they have any symptoms, even if they might seem like hayfever.

There have been no further updates to the other affected schools in the region as of this afternoon.

Gordon Primary School, St Anthony’s Parish Primary School and the senior campus of Wanniassa School were all open today for anyone not required to quarantine.

Parents of children deemed close contacts were contacted directly by the school and ACT Health and given instructions to follow.

St Anthony's Parish School at Wanniassa

St Anthony’s Parish Primary School. Photo: Facebook.

11:15 am: COVID-19 cases have now been confirmed at four Tuggeranong campuses: Wanniassa School – Junior Campus, Wanniassa School – Senior Campus, St Anthony’s Parish Primary School in Wanniassa and Gordon Primary School.

A pop-up COVID-19 testing clinic will be on-site from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm today at the Junior Campus.

The news came as the ACT recorded 13 new COVID-19 cases.

Yesterday there were 15 new cases.

There are six people in hospital with COVID, including two in ICU and two require ventilation.

Of the ACT’s 12-plus population, 94.0 per cent are now fully vaccinated.

Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith has expressed some concern about the virus continuing to spread in the Tuggeranong region.

Ms Stephen-Smith told the ABC that few household contacts had been identified and most transmission has occurred at school. She urged anyone with symptoms to get tested and stay home.

“We certainly expect, like we’ve seen in other clusters, that there will be further household transmission, and I guess that’s what we kind of wait to see now, is how much of that transmission has already occurred that may have then on-transmitted.”

A positive case was unknowingly infectious on campus at Gordon Primary School on Monday, 1 November.

The school is open today for anyone who was not directed to quarantine.

A case was also on campus while unknowingly infectious at St Anthony’s Parish Primary School in Wanniassa on Monday and Tuesday this week.

The times of concern are Monday, 1 November, between 9 am and 3 pm, and Tuesday, 2 November, from 9 am to 1:15 pm.

It’s also open today after undergoing deep cleaning last night.

Seventeen COVID-19 cases are now linked to the initial cluster at Wanniassa School – Junior Campus. Fifteen attended the campus and two are household contacts.

Yesterday, authorities were particularly concerned about a case that did not seem to be linked to the student cohort within which the initial COVID-19 case was identified.

Test results from the school community are likely to be returned today, which Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said will paint a more accurate picture of the extent of transmission.

As of yesterday, Dr Coleman estimated 120 close contacts from the school community would need to quarantine.

The campus has been exposed to the virus for the week from Monday, 25 October onwards, as well as Tuesday, 2 November.

Anyone who has been on site since Monday, 25 October, is required to get tested.

Dr Coleman said she was “unsure” how this scenario would play out given the recent easing of restrictions allowing masks to be taken off outdoors and increased capacity limits in some venues.

All school students in the ACT returned to school on Monday, 1 November.

Queanbeyan Public School will also remain closed today as contact tracing efforts continue.

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ACT Health has also confirmed a positive case attended Southern Canberra Gymnastics Centre on Saturday, 30 October between 10:30 am and 12 pm.

The venue is now confirmed as a close contact exposure site, with anyone who attended at this time being contacted by ACT Health with instructions.

Stromlo Leisure Centre Indoor pool hall and Hog’s Breath Cafe Woden are both casual contact exposure sites. The former on Monday, 1 November between 8:25 am and 10:45 am; the latter on Sunday, 31 October between 5 pm and 6 pm.

See the COVID-19 website for more details and instructions to follow as a close or casual contact.

There are now only 17 active COVID-19 exposure sites listed online.

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The ACT Government has also committed an extra $12.63 million towards making schools COVID-safe.

The funding will be used in terms one and two next year and will allow for extended daytime cleanings services, improved ventilation through carbon dioxide monitoring, increased maintenance and capital works.

Additional relief teachers, additional shade structures in playgrounds and the provision of masks and hand sanitiser will also be secured through the funding.

It will be drawn from the ACT’s $50 million COVID-19 Response Fund, while some costs will be recovered through Commonwealth funding which supports state and territory efforts in addressing the pandemic.

Schools have made several changes in line with the Chief Health Officer’s directions, including staggering breaks, keeping cohorts separate, increasing ventilation indoors and moving to outdoor learning where possible.

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To 8 pm last night, NSW recorded 308 new cases, a significant jump on the 190 cases announced yesterday.

There were four deaths.

NSW Health said 88.7 per cent of people aged 16-plus have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Victoria recorded 1247 new infections, as with NSW, the cases rose significantly from yesterday’s 941 new cases.

There were nine deaths in Victoria.

About 81 per cent of Victorians aged above 12 have been fully inoculated.

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