16 August 2021

UPDATED: One new positive COVID-19 case, genomic testing reveals Sydney link

| Genevieve Jacobs
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COVID-19 testing at Brindabella Park

The queue for COVID-19 testing at Brindabella Park this morning (14 August). Photo: Michelle Kroll.

UPDATED 1:30 pm: One new positive COVID-19 case has been identified in the ACT, a close contact of a previous positive case.

The new case brings the total number of active infections in the ACT to seven after two record days of testing in the ACT.

Around 4500 close contacts have been identified and there are 39 exposure sites as of this morning (14 August).

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said that genomic testing had confirmed the Canberra outbreak is linked to cases in Greater Sydney.

“I am confident it has not come from somewhere else,” Dr Coleman said at today’s press conference.

The Gold Creek student’s case is still under investigation and Dr Coleman added that she was increasingly concerned about a narrative that blames one individual and prevents others from coming forward.

“This is about keeping people safe to give us as much information as they have,” she said.

Dr Coleman would not speculate on whether another as-yet-unidentified positive case may have created the initial infection chain.

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said the ACT’s first case was linked to Greater Sydney. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said he is feeling “a lot better”, but he’s taking it one day at a time.

“I’m pleased we locked down the way we did and it was clearly the right decision,” Mr Barr said. “Tomorrow is another significant day for us.

“If there continues to be low case numbers and positive cases can be isolated, that would be the best health outcome for the ACT.

More than 4500 tests were conducted yesterday, mostly at ACT Health facilities, but also with the assistance of private pathology providers. Mr Barr said a test was conducted every 45 seconds at EPIC and it’s anticipated that testing speed will rise today to a test every 30 seconds.

Mr Barr said that testing around 1 per cent of the ACT’s population in a single day gave health authorities decent surveillance of potential case numbers in the ACT.


Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said there was reason to be proud of the Canberra community for responding and doing the right thing.

Additional testing space and capacity has been created at ACT Health venues with a significant boost in staffing at EPIC, where a second site has opened at the Budawang Pavilion. New traffic arrangements at Brindabella Park are also operating with signage in place to guide drivers along the preferred route.

The Gold Creek pop-up site is now operating for that community.

Ms Stephen-Smith said ACT Health expected to re-open the Kambah testing site by Tuesday (17 August) in partnership with Capital Pathology.

“Those who have been directed by ACT Health to get tested should do so,” she said.

“If you don’t have symptoms, you haven’t been in exposure, you haven’t been asked by ACT Health to get tested, the best thing to support public health response is to stay home. We need to test those people with symptoms and identified by ACT Health.”

Police car

ACT Policing turned back 12 cars at the border yesterday. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Chief Police Officer Neil Gaughan lauded Canberrans for their compliance with the new restrictions but said police needed to turn back 12 cars at the ACT border after checking about 360 vehicles trying to enter the Territory yesterday (13 August).

ACT Policing and NSW Police will ramp up compliance operations along the ACT-NSW border in the coming days.

Mr Barr also encouraged Canberrans to access any vaccine that is available but stopped short of expanding the ACT’s AstraZeneca clinic to people under the age of 60 in line with some other states across Australia.

The small facility would continue to focus on people in the older age bracket while the government focussed on the rollout of the Pfizer vaccine as more supply became available, Mr Barr said.

“Most of [the Territory’s] AstraZeneca is delivered to GPs and pharmacists,” he said. “We are anticipating more Pfizer supplies as more comes into Australia, so we are stepping up our focus there.

“It will always be that there will be walk-in availability for AstraZeneca in the primary healthcare network and pharmacists.”

An update on Canberra’s lockdown is expected early next week.

More to come.

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