11 December 2021

UPDATED: ACT records 11 new cases of COVID-19; from today, unvaccinated or Omicron close contacts will mean Christmas quarantine

| Lottie Twyford
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AIS Vaccination clinic

98.2 per cent of the ACT’s 12-plus population is now fully vaccinated. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

UPDATED 11:45 am – The ACT has recorded 11 new cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8 pm yesterday.

There are a total of five cases in ACT hospitals as of 8 pm yesterday, including two in intensive care.

A total of 1,492 negative tests were conducted in the 24 hours to 9 am today. There are 76 active cases in the ACT.

Of the Territory’s 12-plus population, 98.2 per cent are now fully vaccinated (as of 10 December).

Details of the latest COVID-19 exposure sites are available here.

In NSW there are 560 new cases and three deaths.

In Victoria, there are 1,193 new cases and 13 deaths.

christmas markets

From today, if you’re classified as an Omicron close contact or an unvaccinated close contact, you (and potentially your family) will be in quarantine for Christmas. Photo: Christmas in July.

8:45 am – From today, anyone classified as an Omicron close contact will spend Christmas in quarantine.

The same rule applies to their household contacts.

Any children or other unvaccinated people classified as a close contact of a confirmed Delta strain case will also be subject to 14 days’ quarantine.

This means they will also be in quarantine for Christmas.

The ACT’s health authorities have long been wary of making any promises about relaxing or strengthening restrictions in advance, and whether or not these requirements could be relaxed in time for Christmas is no exception.

Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith had a measured response to that question yesterday (9 December), saying that “at the moment, that remains the advice”.

“We know that this precautionary decision around Omicron to require 14 days of quarantine both for close contacts and their household members is a difficult one,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.

“The Chief Health Officer and the Deputy Chief Health Officer are considering this every day and continuing to monitor the situation.”

READ ALSO COVID-19 management under scrutiny: focus on business support and remote learning options

She also acknowledged the “unfortunate and difficult” fact that from today, children under the age of 12 exposed to the virus will remain in quarantine for a full two weeks.

This means they will also be in quarantine for Christmas Day.

“Unfortunately, this is the world we’re living in. We do have to live with COVID-19 and that means that unvaccinated people who are exposed to the virus as close contacts or people exposed to the Omicron strain do need to quarantine to protect the rest of the community,” she said.

She noted that while challenging, it remained important for the virus to be taken “seriously”.

READ ALSO ACT establishing a ‘long COVID’ rehabilitation clinic at UC Hospital

As of Friday, 10 December, there were seven cases of the Omicron variant in the Territory. She said that around 380 close contacts of the Omicron variant are currently in quarantine.

Ms Stephen-Smith noted the Omicron variant had led to the ACT’s first-recorded instance of community transmission at what was classed as a “casual-contact” exposure location.

Yet she acknowledged it was difficult to say whether this was proof of the variant’s greater transmissibility.

As of yesterday, there were still only two public exposure sites deemed ‘Omicron close’ contact sites. These were the Knox Made in Watson on Tuesday, 30 November, between 9 am and 10 am and Next Gen Canberra – Indoor Pool Area on Monday, 29 November, between 5:15 pm and 6:45 pm.

A positive Omicron case also attended Lyneham Primary School during their infectious period of Tuesday, 30 November, and Wednesday, 1 December.

This put approximately 180 close contacts – and their household contacts – who attended the school, including the before and after school care in the two-week quarantine.

More to come.

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I’m pretty sure the unvaccinated did not fly in the new variant

HiddenDragon6:49 pm 11 Dec 21

If Delta and Omicron are serious enough to require the maintenance of such an extreme approach to quarantine, then the major relaxation of the international borders which is planned for next week should be delayed or seriously modified to reduce the risks from international arrivals.

When governments, including here in the ACT, describe what is now happening as “learning to live with the virus”, what they really mean is that the “herd” has to get used to being treated as cattle as the new normal so that a small group of people can get back to making a lot of money out of open borders.

Also remember that this is the same government that refused the use of rapid antigen testing in schools, as recommended in the report below, with the summary text below taken from an ABC news article on the 8th Nov.

“The Doherty Institute has delivered its final modelling to National Cabinet and has told leaders that students should be able to safely keep going to school, even if one of their classmates catches COVID-19, by using daily rapid antigen testing to quickly catch and prevent outbreaks.

The report found daily rapid antigen tests of children exposed to a COVID case, with students sent home only if they test positive, is as effective for preventing outbreaks in schools as a full 14-day quarantine, and “dramatically reduces days of missed face to face learning”.” (ABC News, 8/11/21)

We now have the case that children are choosing between the last weeks of school with friends and cohorts for Christmas with families (see other Canberra Times article).

So Minister considering your government chose to not take the advice of the recommended approach which would have had the least impact on students, and, that your govt has taken an extreme approach with increasing quarantine up to 14 days from the 7 days. What will you do to change this “world we live in” the ACT government has created through their policies and is in full control to amend?

To give context since the 1st Nov 36 schools out of 136 schools in the ACT have been listed as an exposure sites, yet this government decided rapid antigen testing was unnecessary, and has instead chosen the quarantine route.

There were options and the decisions this government made and refuses to change should be owned up to. Indeed proportionality is a fundamental principle of both governance and public health responses, there is no need for this to happen and they should come up with responses that are proportional to the risk.

Surely also penalising children who have no access to the vaccine yet is discriminatory and who exactly is it benefiting if children get mild responses and 98% of the population is vaccinated?

To the Ministers comment of “Unfortunately, this is the world that we’re living in.”

No, unfortunately, this is the world the ACT govt has created. There has been plenty of comments by experts in the area saying that the ACT’s 14 day quarantine stance in regards to Omicron is over the top, particular for those who are already vaccinated an considering our overall high vaccination.

The whole system makes little sense. If most people in Canberra are vaccinated, and if vaccinated people do not get bad symptoms of covid, then who is getting tested for covid?

So getting double vaxxed amounts to nothing. You’re treated the same way as an unvaxxed person if you have a close contact, except of course, if you are Rebel Wilson. Fly in, no isolation. Maybe we should have the celebrity vaccine. Seems to work better

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