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.
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.”
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”.
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.