17 May 2022

UPDATED: Nearly 50 COVID cases confirmed at prison, Territory hits record-breaking hospitalisations, 59th death reported

| Lottie Twyford
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As of 8 am yesterday, almost 50 detainees in the AMC had contracted COVID-19 while in the AMC. Photo: File.

UPDATED 4 pm: Almost 50 detainees at Canberra’s jail have contracted COVID-19 and 15 custodial staff members have been furloughed due to the virus.

An initial cluster of almost 30 COVID cases was first reported at the prison last week, but a spokesperson for the ACT Government said an increase was expected as detainees were tested on day six of their quarantine.

As of 8 am yesterday (Monday 16 May), the number of confirmed infections has grown to 47.

It has been estimated an additional 160 of the 384 detainees currently in detention were exposed to positive cases during their infectious period.

The spokesperson said that the centre is not in full lockdown and reasonable movement is being provided to detainees in consultation with Canberra Heath Services.

ACT Correctional Services said no custodial staff members have been directly infected as a result of the outbreak.

Harrison School

Harrison School is one of the latest ACT public schools to move to remote learning due to staff shortages. Photo: Supplied.

11:3o am: As the Territory reports its 59th pandemic casualty following the death of a woman in her 90s and a record number of people hospitalised with the virus, four additional schools have moved to remote learning amid COVID-induced staff shortages.

It takes the total number of COVID-19-affected ACT public schools to 10.

All cohorts at Black Mountain School are at home from today until Monday (23 May).

It is the first ACT public school to send every student home this year.

Others have moved cohorts of students to learn from home although the ACT Education Directorate is unable to provide details about how many teachers in its system are furloughed from the workforce at any given moment.

Years 1 and 2 at Southern Cross Early Childhood School, Years 3, 4, 5 and 6 at Charnwood-Dunlop and Years 9 and 10 at Harrison School have also been sent home.

Students of essential workers or who are otherwise vulnerable can attend school.

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An additional 1129 COVID cases (521 PCR and 608 RAT) have been recorded overnight, taking the total active caseload to 6300 (3125 PCR and 3175 RAT).

The ACT has also surpassed the 120,000 caseload mark. A total of 120,638 (73,988 PCR and 46,650 RAT) COVID-19 infections have been recorded locally since March 2020.

There are now 80 people in the Territory’s hospitals with the virus. Five of these people are in the ICU and two require ventilation.

Previously, the highest number of people hospitalised with the virus was 76 – most recently seen on 8 and 11 May.

Meanwhile, vaccination rates continue to inch higher.

The double-dose vaccination rate for the ACT’s five-plus population is now 97.2 per cent and 76 per cent of residents aged 16 and older have now received a booster.

Of ACT residents aged five to 11, 67 per cent have received two doses of vaccine.

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As previously reported, cohorts at Red Hill Primary School, Weetangera Primary School and Amaroo School are also at home this week until Friday (20 May).

Students in Years 3 to 6 at Latham Primary School will return to school on Wednesday (18 May), and students in Years 4 to 6 at Namadgi School and Years 5 and 6 at Caroline Chisholm School will be back on Thursday.

Today, all students at Franklin School, Palmerston Primary School and Macgregor Primary School returned to face-to-face learning.

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When ACT school students returned for Term Two, remote learning was flagged as a contingency plan for managing staff absences.

Education Minister Yvette Berry encouraged schools not to “break themselves” to undertake face-to-face learning when remote education processes were available.

“These decisions should be made on an individual school basis … we want them to be safe,” she said.

“We shouldn’t be worried about going to remote education.”

It’s understood no Catholic systemic schools or independent schools have yet moved to remote learning due to staff absences.

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Interstate, NSW has reported 16 deaths overnight and 10,972 new cases of COVID-19.

There are now 1442 people in hospital with the virus and 59 people in ICUs around the state.

Victoria has reported 20 deaths overnight and 13,694 cases of COVID-19.

There are now 516 people hospitalised with the virus, while 31 patients are in the state’s intensive care units.

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