The ACT has reported 1123 new COVID-19 cases in the latest reporting period to 8 pm last night.
It’s a slight drop from yesterday’s 1311 new cases, but daily caseloads over the past week have been steadily increasing. Health authorities previously said they expected to see daily caseloads stabilise around 800 thanks to the spread of the BA.2 sub-lineage of Omicron.
Despite this increase in cases, hospitalisations remain steady, which health authorities say is a good sign. There are currently 37 people in the ACT’s hospitals, including four in ICU and one being ventilated.
According to ACT Health’s weekly epidemiological report – which covered the week 7 to 13 March – the BA.2 sub-lineage of Omicron is becoming more dominant. It was found in more than half (56 per cent) of all sequenced samples.
Earlier this week, Chief Minister Andrew Barr urged people to worry less about daily caseloads and focus instead on other metrics such as hospitalisations.
“As has been the case since Omicron, a key metric for us is the number of people in hospital, the severity of disease and the number of people requiring intensive care and ventilation,” Mr Barr said.
“I’m principally focused on those numbers rather than on daily caseloads.”
However, Mr Barr conceded that while there is a lag between daily cases increasing and hospital numbers increasing, hospitalisations had remained within what had been modelled by ACT Health.
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Currently, the double-dose vaccination rate for the ACT’s five-plus population is 95.5 per cent, and 71.2 per cent of residents aged 16 and older have received a booster.
Of ACT residents aged five to 11, 27 per cent had received two doses.
The 1123 (620 PCR and 503 RAT) new COVID-19 cases reported overnight take the ACT’s active caseload to 5289 (2576 PCR and 2713 RAT).
Since the pandemic began, 64,219 (42,669 PCR and 21,550 RAT) cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the ACT.
Mr Barr has also used yesterday’s Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Labour Force data to illustrate that the Territory’s post-COVID economic recovery is continuing, despite an increase in cases.
The ACT has the lowest unemployment rate in the country at 3 per cent, which is 0.2 percentage points lower than in January 2022.
There are 234,000 people are employed in the ACT, and the government hopes to have 250,000 local jobs by 2025.
“This recovery is helping to create local jobs as we absorb the longer term and cumulative impacts of COVID-19,” Mr Barr said.
“Recent strong retail trade figures and strong credit card spending data, as well as an increase in the household savings rate, which will support greater private consumption, continue to give reason to be cautiously optimistic about the year ahead.”
Interstate, NSW has reported six deaths overnight and 20,050 new cases.
There are now 1060 people in hospital with the virus and 32 people in ICUs around the state.
Victoria has reported nine deaths overnight and an additional 9036 cases of COVID-19.
There are now 199 people hospitalised with the virus, while 23 patients are in the state’s intensive care units.