13 August 2021

UPDATED: Delta confirmed, Gold Creek school communities in quarantine

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Andrew Barr

Chief Minister Andrew Barr: more cases are expected. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

UPDATED 3:42 pm:

UPDATED 2:55 pm: The Chief Health Officer has confirmed that the first five COVID-19 cases have the delta variant, and that a sample from the Gold Creek school student has been sent for genomic testing to determine if there was a link to the other cases.

Dr Kerryn Coleman said that the four cases linked to the young man whose positive test sparked the lockdown had either been to one of the close contact sites or was a household contact.

But she would not reveal any more information about them.

Dr Coleman said none of the cases had been admitted to hospital but were in quarantine at home or in an isolation unit.

The student case had dramatically expanded the number of close and casual contacts, estimated to be nearly 4,000, and meant all staff, students and visitors at the senior and junior campuses of Gold Creek School and the nearby Holy Spirit Catholic Primary School, after-school care and the early learning centre plus all household and secondary contacts went immediately into 14-day quarantine and need to be tested.

Construction workers at the Gold Creek School have also had to go into quarantine and get tested.

A pop-up testing site will be established at the school, placing even more pressure on precious testing resources as both EPIC and the new Brindabella Business Park centre report long queues and four to six-hour waiting times.

Dr Coleman said health authorities would reassess the situation early next week, when she should be able to say whether the lockdown would need to be extended.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said more cases were expected but “we are seeking to get to them first”.

He reiterated the importance of abiding by the lockdown and staying home so the contact tracers could their job and spread of the virus could be minimised.

Mr Barr said investigations were continuing into the source case to see whether there had been a public health order breach but the priority was informing the community about exposure sites which allowed close contacts to be identified.

ACT Health said that there 1,862 confirmed close contacts as at 11:00 am today.

UPDATE 12:20 pm: A 14-year-old student at Gold Creek School in Gungahlin has tested positive for COVID-19.

The student was infectious at the school from 9 August until 11 August.

All students, staff, visitors, and construction workers at either of the Gold Creek School campuses, the Holy Spirit Catholic School, the Out of School Hours Centre and the Early Childhood Centre have been ordered to go for testing and self-isolate.

At this stage there are no identified links between the child and the initial outbreak.

ACT Health is investigating whether the child caught a bus to school with other students or had siblings at other schools in the area.

A pop-up COVID testing facility will be established at Gold Creek in an attempt to identify whether the hundreds of people potentially linked to the student have been exposed to the virus.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the ACT would aim for zero cases active in the community before ending lockdown.

“We want all new identified cases to have been in quarantine for their entire period,” he said.

The child’s positive result was returned after the 9:00 am cut-off for official reporting in today’s figures and will appear in tomorrow’s tally.

It takes the total number of cases in the ACT to six.

12:10 pm: ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr has confirmed there are now six active COVID-19 cases in the region.

ACT Health carried out a record number of tests yesterday (12 August), with two new active COVID cases uncovered.

Almost 4000 close or casual contacts have been identified and exposure sites are likely to grow.

11:45 am: About a dozen students living on the ANU campus are considered close contacts from COVID-19 exposure sites and are isolating in self-contained apartments and following ACT Health orders.

An ANU spokesperson said these close contacts have been or are in the process of being tested for COVID-19, with the assistance of ACT Health.

“All other students are deemed secondary contacts,” he said.

“As an extra precaution, and at the request of ACT Health, we have asked those students to remain in their rooms, while we confirm that there are no positive cases among our residential community.

“Kitchens and dining halls are closed in these residences and students are being provided with food deliveries.

“Where there are shared bathrooms, residents have been given a designated bathroom to use. We also have put in place strict protocols for their use that have been approved by ACT Health.”

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr is expected to brief the media on the unfolding COVID-19 situation in the ACT at midday today.

10:25 am: The ACT has more than 3,000 close contacts from the list of COVID-19 exposure sites released by ACT Health on Thursday, Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said today.

“We’ve got more than 3,000 close contacts identified from those various exposure sites, and known contacts already,” Ms Stephen-Smith told 2CC radio.

She also told ABC radio that ACT Health still did not know the source of the infection and whether the original case had been to Sydney.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr will provide an update on case numbers at 12 noon.

Ms Stephen-Smith has told Canberrans that only those who have symptoms, are close contacts or have been advised by ACT Health to get tested should do so, as long queues have formed at testing sites at EPIC and Brindabella Business Park.

She said people could also get tested at Capital Pathology sites, and that a new mass testing site was being considered for the southside.

8:00 am: Multiple new close and casual contact sites are being named by ACT Health as contact tracers race to establish who may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Pellegrino’s Cafe in Fyshwick is now a close-contact exposure site from last Sunday, as is the Windsor Smith shop at the Canberra Outlet Centre.

Anyone at Pellegrino’s between 7:15 am and 8:15 am on Sunday, or Windsor Smith between 2:45 pm and 3:15 pm on Sunday, must get tested and quarantine for 14 days, regardless of whether their test results are negative.

The EQ Cafe and Lounge in Deakin is a casual contact site. Anyone who was there on Wednesday between 6:30 am and 4:00 pm needs to get tested and isolate until they receive a negative result.

Anyone who attended the Gungahlin Kmart between 3:00 pm and 4:00 pm and Big W stores between 3:45 pm and 4:30 pm on Tuesday afternoon must also get tested and isolate until they receive a negative result.

READ ALSO Fleeing lockdown? What were you thinking?

Casual contacts must complete the ACT contact declaration form and quarantine until they have received a negative result.

Fourteen close-contact exposure sites were identified in the ACT after a man in his 20s from Gungahlin tested positive to the virus. Three additional cases were subsequently diagnosed among his close contacts and more exposure sites are therefore likely.

People who have been at identified exposure sites must complete an online form available on the ACT COVID-19 website.

ACT Health said that anyone who attended the Canberra Outlet Centre between 2:00 pm and 3:30 pm on 8 August outside the specifically identified outlets must also monitor for symptoms and get tested immediately if they develop.

Exposure locations will be updated each day on the ACT Health site.

“Even if you have not been in an exposure location, please be extra vigilant when monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19 and get tested immediately if you experience even the mildest of symptoms,” ACT Health said.

“We will continue to provide regular updates on the situation as it emerges.”

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Derryl Triffett8:35 pm 13 Aug 21

Govt clearly ill-prepared for the testing regime required. Despite statements that close contacts would have priority no such process at Brindabella Park today. 11 hours to get tested.!! Traffic control overwhelmed.

Michelle Richardson2:31 pm 13 Aug 21

Which Gold Creek School? There are a number. The Gold Creek Senior School hire out their gym to Basketball ACT. My child attended this site, is that also a possible contact site? More detailed information would be appreciated.

Ummm MIchelle – have you checked the ACT COVID site (https://www.covid19.act.gov.au/act-status-and-response/act-covid-19-exposure-locations). Is the Gold Creek Senior School at Nicholls? If so, does it have an early childhood learning centre? That’s the information I was able to obtain by looking at the page. If this is still it makes it inconclusive you have a right to question the detail. But perhaps you should actually check the source of truth before making such statements.

The above report is just that a report … did you ring the ACT Covid help line?

Strange that they still haven’t announced where the original case acquired COVID. C’mon, don’t be shy, we all know who he is, show some transparency.

Perhaps they are not wanting to officially throw the guy to the RiotACT lynchmob, Chewy?

Not strange at all. End of the day at the moment it is not important. Important thing is to worry about where that person has been and who they have been in contact with.

I have no doubt in time the police will investigate and if the rumors I’ve heard about this person are true I hope they throw the book at him. But now is not the time to have the cheif minister debating the media in public over this person.

Actually it’s critically important where the virus was contracted. How else would you determine what the scope of the problem is?

By not being honest, the community is worrying that COVID was circulating in the community and was randomly acquired, when apparently that isn’t the case.

They’ve locked down the entire city, a little transparency wouldn’t go astray but it’s hardly surprising for this government not to do so.

Don’t think this is a case of lack of transparency. I would say this is a case of proper process and not feeding the mob mentality. And that I believe the point Barr was making in his conference.

I am sure health and most likely the police want to get to the bottom of it all, but now is the time to let them do their job properly.

Agreed, JC – I expect there is far more information in various stages of verification that the ACT authorities currently have … despite the hue and outcry, feeding the press there next big headline is not one of their high priorities. This is one of those times where blind compliance is all that is needed – and save the recriminations for the inevitable aftermath enquiry

Except he didn’t say that, he said where the person got it from was unimportant at the moment which is clearly incorrect.

By deliberately lying about this they are purposefully causing more angst in the community than is necessary.

Barr may always think he knows better but we have a right to know. That’s what good government is about.

Chewy what nonsense especially saying the government is lying.

I watched that press conference and the person who asked the question was after a gotcha moment. And the way Barr answered it was direct and to the point. He wasn’t going to feed the media frenzy around that individual.

If you dont think the government is lying here, I have a bridge that you might be interested in buying.

Also as we’ve now seen due to the government’s inability to be honest and transparent the person involved has outed himself.

Yes, JC, that’s exactly how I saw it … it’s unfortunate that these journalists use ‘the people have a right to know’ card to justify their inane questions, searching for that headline that will propel them from anonymity. I’ve been really impressed with the openness and willingness of all who have fronted these conferences.

You can’t seriously be congratulating the government for openness on this issue when they are clearly obfuscating and refusing to be honest.

The questions asked in the press conference were legitimate ones around where the virus has come from which is critical information to stop the spread. Barr’s answer was woeful.

Chewy14 – as usual you offer an opinion which the rest of us are obliged to take as fact.

It isn’t an opinion, it is fact based on the Chief Minister’s own statements at the press conference and their silence that led to the first case outing himself yesterday.

Do you think it would have been hard to simply say:

“The first case has been interviewed and claims not to have been outside Canberra within the last few months, we are currently investigating further to ascertain how the virus has gotten in to Canberra”.

Instead we got Barr acting like the electorate doesn’t need any information and that it was “entirely unimportant” where it came from. Good governments are open and transparent, the ACT one treats us all like little schoolchildren.

Although I know you claim to be a very compliant chap so perhaps that’s the way you like it.

Chewy that’s not fact that’s your interpretation of Barr’s words and intent.

I read and interpret his words entirely differently.

As for the guy outing himself even if Barr said the words you used there still would have been heat on him and be clear heat his why he has come out.

And it’s not the governments roll to out him anyway. Do that then you will find people will be less inclined to get tested which is bad for us all.

Oh as for loving the ALP out of interest up until about 4 weeks ago I would have said that the NSW liberal premier had done the best job of managing COVID. (Here in Canberra we have not had much to do until this week) And even now whilst I think she went too slow and not tight enough in lockdown I still have some sympathy for her. Especially as NSW bears the brunt of the most international arrivals including freight and no one predicted how fast the delta variant spreads.

Game. Set. Match – Chewy14. Thank you linesman. Thank you ballboys.

There may still have been heat on him to out himself but the pressure would have significantly diminished, the community would have had more information to lower their anxiety and the government builds trust.

And let’s be clear, when the government is taking such serious measures as they are, trust is number 1,2 and 3 in getting people to comply to government directions.

Now to be fair they may have been flustered and stressed in those early press conferences, the chief minister performed much better yesterday but they need to work on their communication styles and willingness to be honest with the community.

What is it with the ABC!!!!!!! In the middle of the ACT press conference today, we get some talking head tell us “We’ll leave that there …” and we switch to journalists and the syndicated feed. I don’t care about your reporter-on-the-spot’s (with a background graphic of Parliament House) opinion/ observations/ summation, I want to hear from the people who are actually responsible for getting us through this. You are the public broadcaster and supposed to be the media we turn to for up-to-date information in a crisis. – when you go missing in action, at a time like this, ABC, you just give ammunition to those calling for the public broadcaster to be defunded. Perhaps Genevieve, you can shed some light as to why, when Canberrans need to get access to the latest information (otherwise how do we ensure compliance), the public broadcaster has gone missing in action? Thank heavens for the Canberra Times blog (part of a commercial profit making entity), where we could listen to the rest of the press conference – though, no fault of the CT, it did take us a while to find it.

Yeah – that’s the only issue with the ABC…

Disturbing ABC report of a defined close contact turned away from EPIC testing site. She said there was no special line for close contacts, despite gov’t claims of prioritising these cases (which of course must be prioritised).

Like many, I’ve heard some disturbing rumours about patient zero. Unfortunately as it’s the “a friend of a friend, who knows a work mate of …” rumour mill, so no justification whatsoever to state what I’ve heard, but if true and it comes out, I’d hate to be patient zero.

Funny how FCTN seems to crop up in these stories

Actually, rustylick, the rumours I’ve heard may have some basis in fact – one of the journos at the ACT press conference asked if the guy was a bouncer (which I had heard) … now I’m not for one minute suggesting the fourth estate doesn’t engage in innuendo and promoting rumours, but it does seem a strange question to just come out of left field

Grant Mitchell8:22 am 13 Aug 21

Thanks for the update ? however I have a feeling the potential exposure contact timeframe at The Assembly Pub has been extended. If you were there between 8:00pm and 9:30pm on Sunday, test and isolate. Details here: https://www.covid19.act.gov.au/act-status-and-response/act-covid-19-exposure-locations

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