UPDATED: One new COVID-19 case, but Canberrans have co-operated over Easter

Genevieve Jacobs 5 May 2020 24
Canberra Hospital

One unexplained COVID-19 transmission case involving an ICU nurse is being investigated by ACT Health. Photo: File.

Updated 3.10 pm, Monday. With a few notable exceptions, the Chief Minister says that Canberrans have largely done the right thing over Easter and stayed home. But the lure of the Lake run and flat-pack shopping have both caused concern and ACT Policing has turned back a small number of vehicles heading out of the city, including one towing a caravan.

ACT Health has announced one new case of COVID-19 in Canberra and says they should have results soon for one of the two cases still under investigation.

The ACT’s total number of confirmed cases is now 103.

The new case is a female in her 50s who was a close contact of a confirmed case. Three COVID-19 patients are receiving treatment in Canberra hospitals while 72 people have fully recovered and been released from self-isolation. The remaining patients continue to isolate at home with ACT Health support. There have been 6191 negative tests in the ACT and two deaths.

Speaking at a press conference today, Chief Minister Andrew Barr thanked Canberrans for playing their part in physical distancing over Easter. He confirmed that as of Monday afternoon (13 April), nobody had been fined for breaching restrictions.

“It’s fantastic to see people out and about around the Lake and the bridge to bridge walk,” he said. “There is nothing wrong with that 5 km circuit, but you defeat the whole purpose if you are all crammed together on the bridges or stairs. Stay apart.”

Mr Barr said that Canberrans also “love flat-pack furniture shopping out near Canberra airport”. But he reminded Canberrans that “that shop will be there for days, weeks, months and years ahead. Think about when you need to go”.

“There are things people need to do over long weekends, but the fantastic work of the last few weeks can be undone by one large crowd gathering.”

Mr Barr said ACT Police had reported “a very positive response over the long weekend” as they’ve spoken to people about the purpose of their travel although several vehicles, including one towing a caravan, have been turned around. Gatherings of people at skate parks have also been moved on by police.

“Three people is a crowd at the moment,” Mr Barr said. “There are some sections of the community for whom this is only just beginning to sink in.”

But Mr Barr was clear that the ACT is not looking at lifting gathering restrictions at any time soon. Changes would be made in consultation with the national cabinet, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (the key decision-making committee for health emergencies) and the NSW Government. The next projected review of restrictions is at the end of April.

He also expressed scepticism about the NRL’s plans to resume competition at the end of May.

“I don’t blame them for wanting to plan and restart, every sporting code wants that. But from this vantage point that seems highly unlikely,” he said.

Acting Chief Health Officer Vanessa Johnston said that after two weeks, ACT Health is close to finalising investigations into one of two cases where the cause of transmission was unclear. ACT Health is awaiting final tests results from Westmead and Dr Johnston said those results should be available this week.

However, a second case involving a staff member in the intensive care unit at Canberra Hospital is still in the early stages of investigation.

Dr Johnston said that as a result of this case, six Canberra Hospital staff are now in quarantine.

The quarantine of the six staff follows today’s closure of two hospitals in Tasmania – the North West Regional Hospital and North West Private Hospital in Burnie – due to coronavirus. The hospitals are shut for a ‘deep clean’, according to the Premier of Tasmania, Peter Gutwein.

But while the northern Tasmania outbreak is very concerning, Dr Johnston said there were no indications that a similar situation was likely in the ACT.

“The staff member in question did everything right in not returning to work,” she said. “As far as I’m aware she is doing well at home.”

Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith thanked public and clinical health response teams, frontline health staff and all those who have worked through the Easter weekend to keep essential services running.

“The fact that we have one new case who is a close contact of an existing known case and two days of zero new cases reflects the hard work Canberrans have been doing,” she said.

For further information visit www.covid19.act.gov.au or call the helpline on 02 6207 7244 between 8:00 am and 8:00 pm daily. You can also call the Australian Government’s 24-hour Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080.


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24 Responses to UPDATED: One new COVID-19 case, but Canberrans have co-operated over Easter
old canberran old canberran 4:58 pm 14 Apr 20

Yes, well done Canberrans for leaving us alone over Easter down here on the Far South Coast. Unfortunately the usual group who don’t obey the rules were here in Merimbula and Tura Beach. Quite a few Canberra plates have been spotted, unfortunately. They may have legitimate reasons for being here but I can’t think of any.

Jenny McInnes Jenny McInnes 11:21 am 14 Apr 20

I travelled away from my home - I had a drs appt. I also had vistors - a plumber putting in a new hotwater system. It seems his truck and my newly arrived home (from Canada) son and daughter in law now living with me constitues a "party" of sorts or at least more than allowed vistors. Dob in someone doing the wrong thing...

Cary Elliot Johnson Cary Elliot Johnson 9:55 am 14 Apr 20

Again it has to be repeated..,.. you can’t catch COVID just by passing someone unless they touch or spray on you or you touch something they have touched assuming they are infected

Karla O'Brien Karla O'Brien 10:03 pm 13 Apr 20

My question is when they have a vaccine who gets it? Everyone in the world?

    Calvin Chan Calvin Chan 10:29 pm 13 Apr 20

    If Donald Trump gets a say in the matter, it will be American's first.

    Cary Elliot Johnson Cary Elliot Johnson 11:24 am 14 Apr 20

    Karla O'Brien nope, well not if you’ve been watching The 100, then you’d better get on that list

Jose Vega Jose Vega 9:44 pm 13 Apr 20

Why are markets still open,, shoulder to shoulder......

Lee Sheather Lee Sheather 8:01 pm 13 Apr 20

Bunnings Tuggeranong the Carpark was full you couldn’t get another car in there at 4pm, but more cars where arriving.

    Laith Beveridge Laith Beveridge 10:13 pm 13 Apr 20

    Lee Sheather same here was crazy busy lining up to get into the car park 😭

Peter Scott Peter Scott 7:41 pm 13 Apr 20

Anyone been fined in Canberra yet?

15 people playing soccer at Kippax on Thursday last week.

Many cars at Radford college noon Saturday.

Too many inconsiderate selfish idiot morons putting people at risk.

Eilleen Eugenio Eilleen Eugenio 7:26 pm 13 Apr 20

I have a (possibly silly) question about the stats – when they say total confirmed is 103 and 72 recovered does this mean that the total number of current covid19 cases is 31 for the ACT?

    Ken Mansell Ken Mansell 1:40 pm 14 Apr 20

    Actually is 29 as two passed away. Heading to zero fast…

Mel Hendrie Mel Hendrie 5:12 pm 13 Apr 20

Sadly our neighbours had multiple visitors and some have travelled away from their home this weekend.

    Elise Taylor Elise Taylor 5:28 pm 13 Apr 20

    Meanwhile, 2 of my best friends have been cloaked in protective gear sweating it out as nurses in intensive care looking after patients with covid. Rude

    Mel Hendrie Mel Hendrie 5:33 pm 13 Apr 20

    Elise Taylor totally get it. Very frustrating.

    Genny Herbert Genny Herbert 5:53 pm 13 Apr 20

    IKEA was crazy on Saturday.

    Paula Simcocks Paula Simcocks 9:48 pm 13 Apr 20

    Mel Hendrie perhaps they are visiting vulnerable people like parents - allowable in most states.

Katrina Barter Katrina Barter 4:57 pm 13 Apr 20

Louise Dalglish Smith I think you're being pretty judgemental. I've been going for 1 or 2 runs around my local area and have found fellow runners, walkers snd cyclists are equally aware and respectful of social distancing while we get much needed mental health time outside. We are very lucky to live in a city that gives us a lot of opportunity for reasonable outside exercise while keeping a safe distance.

That said, I haven't driven to LBG so no idea of the numbers, BUT I suspect a lot of people are going there thinking it's safe due to relative distance and fresh air etc, particularly if they live in more densely populated areas.

Louise Dalglish Smith Louise Dalglish Smith 4:25 pm 13 Apr 20

Based on our three surrounding neighbours activities over the weekend I am expecting a spike in two weeks. If they weren’t out for extended periods they had friends and family over. Unbelievable.

    Paula Simcocks Paula Simcocks 9:46 pm 13 Apr 20

    Louise Dalglish Smith the rules said you can have 2 over if stay 2 metres apart

Chelsea Columbus Chelsea Columbus 4:13 pm 13 Apr 20

Georgia Columbus hahah flat packs

Pamela Tomlinson Pamela Tomlinson 3:29 pm 13 Apr 20

Mulligans flat has been packed this weekend too. I’ve never seen it with so many cars parked along the road.

Tarnii Boland Tarnii Boland 3:24 pm 13 Apr 20

Ellen Maree... 'lake circuit'

Enjoy that walk while you can!

    Ellen Maree Ellen Maree 4:07 pm 13 Apr 20

    Tarnii Jaid it is like a highway these days...

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