19 August 2021

UPDATED: ACT has 22 new cases, positive case in Goulburn linked to Canberra

| Genevieve Jacobs and Dominic Giannini
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Andrew Barr

Andrew Barr has announced 22 new cases in the ACT. Image: Screenshot.

UPDATED 2:45 pm: A positive case has been recorded in Goulburn and will be included in tomorrow’s case numbers.

The Southern NSW Local Health District has confirmed that there are no public exposure sites related to the case as the person was not in the community during the infectious period.

The individual works in the ACT and has a residential address in Goulburn. The case has been linked to a Canberra exposure site.

A small number of close contacts are in isolation and testing is underway.

Additional capacity has been set up at the Goulburn hospital testing clinic.

12:30 pm: There are 22 new cases of COVID-19 in the ACT, but health authorities say they have succeeded in linking all but four of Canberra’s cases to other known diagnoses.

Many of the new diagnoses are among younger people and the median age of those affected is 19.5 years. Seventeen cases have been linked to Lyneham High School resulting in thousands of students, staff and families entering quarantine.

At this stage, there have been no further cases identified at the Greenway Views aged care facility.

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman told today’s COVID-19 briefing that there are still no hospitalisations and that in the last 24 hours, 8417 tests have been conducted in the ACT, making a total of 25,000 tests since lockdown began, representing about 6 per cent of the population as a whole.

Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said that urgent extra AstraZeneca supplies are being delivered to community pharmacies, and nine general practices are also seeking urgent extra AstraZeneca supplies.

“Once again we are seeing Canberrans enthusiastic about getting vaccinated,” she said.

She noted that the ACT’s health system is stressed but coping and thanked volunteers from the SES and community fire units who are volunteering in support roles from contact tracing to supporting people waiting in queues.

The public pathology laboratory is operating on a 24/7 basis, and Minister Stephen-Smith said that yesterday the team processed four times as many tests as last week.

But Chief Minister Andrew Barr warned that the ACT is “among the most exposed, if not the most exposed, when it comes to the NSW outbreak”, where a record 633 new cases have been identified.

“That will clearly have an impact on the settings we can put in place,” he said.

“We’ve put a lot of measures in place to have our outbreak not follow the same path as the NSW outbreak.”

Canberrans have also been strongly urged not to travel to Yass for testing, although the ACT is working in collaboration with NSW Health to enable overflow testing in Queanbeyan when local facilities are under particular stress.

Around 12,500 people are now in quarantine including 10,500 close contacts linked to the ACT. A remaining 2000 are linked to interstate outbreaks.

Mr Barr said that there is now considerable pressure on food delivery services and the government has been engaging with major supermarkets to prioritise deliveries for people in quarantine.

He thanked small business and grocery providers for going “above and beyond” to meet demand. There are also measures in place for food deliveries for people who are vulnerable.

Vaccination rates are well above the national average. Around 57 per cent of Canberrans have received their first dose of vaccine and one-third of Canberrans are fully vaccinated.

Mr Barr said that conversations continue with industry stakeholders for COVID-safe business in the next few weeks, including home delivery for local small businesses and arrangements for construction to restart.

“However, as I said yesterday, now is not the time to be easing restrictions,” Mr Barr said.

“Work will continue to chart a path forward, but anyone who looks at NSW numbers today and what’s occurring there now knows that this is not the time to ease restrictions.”

The ACT Government has been engaging positively with the Commonwealth regarding jointly funded business support programs including commercial tenancies relief and additional tourism support, particularly for privately operated attractions including the Canberra Zoo.

The ACT is also looking at micro-business grants with the Commonwealth and expanding the existing small business hardship scheme.

“As we come towards the end of the first week of the ACT lockdown, I want to thank Canberrans for their tremendous community spirit,” the Chief Minister said,

“This community has responded amazingly to the circumstances. This has been a really tough winter across Australia, especially in Canberra.

“I want to hold out hope that we will get through this but we need to look after each other. Please stay at home. But do keep in touch via social media or the telephone. That sort of support will be essential as we got through the next few weeks of lockdown”.

UPDATED 11:55 am: Chief Minister Andrew Barr has announced 22 new COVID-19 cases in ACT. All cases have been linked to existing cases.

This brings the total number in the ACT to 67. None are in hospital.

A total of 8417 tests were conducted in the past 24 hours.

Mr Barr has urged people to remain at home and not visit others, but to keep in touch with family and friends by phone or the internet.

Dr Kerryn Coleman confirmed that only four of 67 cases remain under investigation. ACT Health is monitoring all cases, but the list of self-identified close contacts now exceeds 10,000. There are also more than 190 exposure locations.

To remain up to date on the ACT locations, visit covid19.act.gov.au.

NSW recorded 633 new COVID-19 cases and three more deaths in the past 24 hours.

Speaking at her daily briefing, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian declared “we haven’t seen the worst of it”.

Sixty people have died in NSW since the Delta outbreak began on 16 June.

9:00 am: The ACT Government is calling for recently retired nurses or nurses taking time off to return to the profession and help the ACT’s COVID-19 efforts after 400 Canberra Health Services and Calvary Hospital staff were forced into isolation.

Contact tracers and testing clinics in the ACT are under mounting pressure to contain the growing delta outbreak as the list of exposure sites continues to grow – expanding into five schools as of Wednesday morning (18 August).

Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith also said the government was also looking at ways to incorporate nursing and medical students into the workforce.

If you are interested in joining the nursing ranks and can lend a hand, call 02 5124 6140 or visit the ACT job search website.

8:00 am: Three more schools have been added to the list of COVID-19 exposure sites in the ACT.

This means the virus has sent at least four school communities across Canberra into isolation in the past week.

Anyone at Harrison School primary or secondary campuses on Wednesday, 11 August or Thursday, 12 August between 8:30 am and 3:30 pm is considered a close contact and must get tested and quarantine for 14 days.

Anyone at St Thomas Aquinas Primary School in Charnwood on Thursday, 12 August between 8:30 am to 4:00 pm is considered a close contact.

Anyone at the UC Secondary College Lake Ginninderra gym and cafeteria/canteen on Monday, 9 August between 10:00 am and 1:30 pm is also a close contact.

Yum Cha Cuisine

Yum Cha Cuisine has been listed as an exposure location. Photo: Westfield.

Yum Cha Cuisine at the Westfield Belconnen food court and IGA in Evatt are also listed as exposure locations.

A full list of exposure locations is available at www.covid19.act.gov.au.

ACT Senator Katy Gallagher has also confirmed on social media that her daughter Evie was one of Tuesday’s positive cases, sending the former ACT chief minister into quarantine for 14 days.

Senator Gallagher said her daughter was “pretty unwell and understandably worried” but that she was grateful for the medical and personal support the family was receiving.

The rest of the family have so far returned negative results.

More to come.

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Chewy14, No, I said precisely that management of vaccines was significantly within the government’s control, and they failed for all to see; and some to notice.
“As for AZ, it is a tragedy…” Yes, the failure of the present government leading to management by active discrimination has indeed been a tragedy.

If you think that, then border control is also significantly within the government’s control and our government has succeeded whilst your example of Canada has failed.

You can’t pick and choose to suit your argument.

And no, our government was not in control of the messaging around AZ because it was subject to the independent advice of ATAGI. And whilst ATAGI’s position was sound on the risks of AZ, they didn’t balance it against the true risk of a Covid outbreak, using outdated data for last year and the assumption that the government could (and should) effectively shut down society until enough Pfizer was available. It was not and still is not a balanced position of risk management

Does anyone know who the woman asking all the questions at today’s media conference was and where she is from?

Capital Retro8:33 am 19 Aug 21

Sounds like my ex-missus.

Yes, Delta infections would have happened anyway, it’s the nature of the beast, and we should all focus on the response. All well and good, but make no mistake, the speed and severity of this outbreak owes much to an act of political bastardry by the Liberal and National Parties in NSW in promoting an ideological point of difference, egged on by its Federal ‘leadership’ (for want of a better word), those who failed us so miserably in their quarantine and vaccine responsibilities.

When we (most of us) come out the other side we will expect all concerned, and their apologists, to accept their share of personal responsibility, as they routinely urge others to do, and show they have learned from the experience by changing their behaviour.

Capital Retro10:04 am 18 Aug 21

it’s the medical experts that have advised young people don’t get vaccinated, not the government.

You sound like Morrison.

The medical experts warned against the use of Astra Zenica for younger people. It was the Morrison government that went against all advice to purchase Pfizer.

Medical experts advised the same in Canada, so their government abandoned using AZ for anyone. The difference was that they bought early and often, ensuring sufficient supplies of safer and more effective mRNA vaccines for all their people.
Here, our Federal government tries to cover for its abject failure in risk management by discriminating against the old and the young.

And yet Canada has had 1.5 million Covid cases and over 26000 deaths.

Great management by their government clearly.

It’s almost like the vaccine supplies have preferentially gone to those richer countries near manufacturing hubs who had the biggest case numbers and deaths.

Strange that, isn’t it.

Canada is adjacent to America, affecting virus prevalence. Are we a poor country? Are we more proximate to Britain that we have AZ? Fact is that Canada is way ahead of us, like almost all OECD countries.,

Canada has around 50% more people than Australia yet have, give or take, 26,000 more deaths. I think our leaders have done a bloody good job.

Yes, in hindsight, things could’ve been done better but we’re doing pretty darn well. I suggest everyone get their jabs and then, when the borders open up to those who have had the jab, go and see this fantastic country of ours – it’s worth it.

So what you’re saying is that there are differences in performance based on things outside of government’s control.

As for AZ, it is a tragedy that it hasn’t been used more widely here, but you’d have to take that up with the independent ATAGI whose extremely conservative and unbalanced approach has caused the issue.

Capital Retro8:34 am 19 Aug 21

And there’s nothing wrong with that, JC.

Ken, you don’t speak for all Ken Behrens. KG’s comment was understandable and warranted.

I agree. Katy is spot on as well as being personally affected. I am vaccinated but am worried about my grandchildren who are not and could be seriously affected by the Delta strain. The Fed’s failures in both quarantine and obtaining vaccines have led to this. The NSW Govt ‘too little too late’ strategy also has not been helpful.

Yes, indeed, whatwik. It needed saying.

Gallagher is a politican so is sure to get a slap at the gov into any and every situation that comes her way

No, rocca. Ms Gallagher was fully justified and 100% factually correct.

I hope that Katy’s daughter and everyone else who has been infected gets well quickly and that every Australian, in every State and Territory abides by lockdown rules and gets vaccinated as soon as possible.
It’s a pity that Katy has needed to make a political comment about the Government. It wasn’t necessary or warranted.

Frank Spencer9:29 am 18 Aug 21

What political comment would that be? She was just stating facts.

She laid the blame on the Commonwealth. Reality is that the Commonwealth like all State Governments relies on medical advice. Delta obviously has thrown a significant curve ball at us all.
The real issue is people’s reluctance and apathy about getting vaccinated and those who simply think they don’t need to follow health orders.

What the federal governments medical advice that vaccination was not a race?

I think not. That comment and view was purely political not medical. Far too often in this pandemic political leaders (of all persuasions) have hidden behind the line of medical advice. About time they took responsibility.

What annoys me the most is Morrison actually has a good excuse for the slow rollout, which is he backed the wrong horse initially (going for the Uni of Queensland vaccine that turned out to be a fizzed). If he had of just stood up and said that people may have been more sympathetic. Yet he peddled another view that we were at the front of the line for alternatives when reality is we were not even close. Now we are begging and buying vaccines from countries like Poland and drawing down on supplies that are meant for poor countries.

So medical advice my left leg.

ken, it was a political and economic decision by Mr Morrison et al to rely almost completely on the AstraZeneca vaccine. They can’t hide behind “medical advice”. AstraZeneca is cheaper than Pfizer. Penny wise, pound very, very foolish. All associated with that decision should resign. I would say the same if they were Labor politicians.

Exactly right. Total FU #1: They should have backed all the major players in vac development. Total FU #2 They should also have had a zero tollerance for Mr Jones et al spreading their anti-vax rubbish. [F “free speech”. What if covid had an 80% mortality rate? Would this “free speech” BS be acceptable then? Why is it acceptable under Delta. Why is Jones still on the Air? How many has that idiot KILLED?] Unfortunately Delta is currently being spread in Sydney by low IQ morons who believe the moon landings were fake, and Covid is no worse than a cold. You can’t make this s*** up. Sad.

You do have to laugh at the amount of medical and procurement experts with 20-20 hindsight, when there have been significant challenges that would have occurred in this space no matter who was in power.

And when you actually look at the vaccine ramp up and the targets that were made early on this year, we are only going to be around 2-3months behind schedule.

Despite all the attempted political spin by all sides, the result isn’t actually that bad.

Which schedule would that be Chewy? The first iterations, second, third? Easy to meet targets when you move the goal posts.

The schedules from the start of this year before the program actually started, which was 40million doses by the end of October. We are currently tracking for 25million+ by then, and the 40 million well before the end of the year. If you want to talk about later iterations of the goals, we are actually ahead of them.

The government backed multiple horses in this race and its been unfortunate firstly that the UQ Vaccine had the issues with HIV testing false positives(but it probably still works) and the AZ clotting issue which should never have been blown up by ATAGI like it was.

Considering Vaccines were in extremely short global supply and there are countries who were far more in need than us, is it really surprising?

Our government secured more than double the vaccines to cover the entire population of multiple different vaccine types and has pivoted relatively fast when challenges have occurred. Seems some people wouldn’t have been happy unless we hoarded the entire vaccine supply despite being at a very low risk.

As above, none of those reasons excuse the political spin from all sides of politics on the issue which has been a large part of the problem for messaging.

Again chewy don’t disagree with the basic just of what you are saying (look at my post towards the top).

But as I said biggest issue is Morrison’s spin rather than coming out with the truth.

Oh and being 15m short of of a target of 40m is not close by a long shot. But it is great to see the vaccination program now taking off. Pity it took a major outbreak in Liberal NSW for that to happen. Likewise support for business too, with the tone changing when it was NSW’s turn after telling Victoria initially lockdowns are your fault and problem.

Agree with most of that, although as I said, that 15million doses (it will probably be less) is only a couple of months behind. In the grand scheme of things, I’d almost call it successful for a government led program.

Far too much politics involved though, with mistakes made all around but most of them honest ones.

Morrison spins and then the ALP and the Greens spin back. Very little thought of what is best for all Australians, lots of thought about positioning for the next election.

Although to get on one of my other bugbears, a lot of these problems would be fixed if state government’s didn’t exist.

Yeah mistakes have been made all round and I put them down to the pace of this virus and leaders having to wing it.

I for the most part have not criticised state leaders for this reason.

Morrison on the other hand takes no responsibility, but takes credit when there is credit to be have. And every word that comes out of his mouth is political. And yes think we would be better off without states (said this very early on) though thankfully we do have states with Morrison in charge.

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