After warnings of skyrocketing caseloads in the coming weeks from the Chief Health Officer yesterday, the ACT has today reported 1174 (580 PCR and 594 RAT) new COVID-19 infections.
It comes as the dramatically reduced reinfection period – from 12 weeks to four weeks – came into effect in the Territory at midnight.
It means anyone who experiences symptoms from 28 days after they are cleared from their initial infection is now required to test for the virus and isolate.
A similar change, announced by NSW Health this morning, came into effect immediately in that state in line with recommendations from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee made late last week.
It’s believed the more infectious sub-variants of BA.4 and BA.5, which are projected to become the dominant strains nationwide, are better at evading immunity from previous infection.
Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman yesterday said it was difficult, if not impossible, to predict how many people would be reinfected with the virus.
According to ACT Health’s latest weekly epidemiological report, 3 per cent of the cases reported (8454) were repeat infections.
That number is expected to increase as immunity wanes following COVID-19 infection, vaccination, and as the BA.5 subvariant replaces BA.2 as the dominant variant in the ACT and nationally.
Professor Peter Collignon last week said measuring reinfections would also prove difficult as some overseas evidence suggested a second and even a third infection would – for most people – be less severe when compared with their first episode.
For this reason, he said many people may not get tested if they have only extremely mild symptoms meaning true caseloads would not be known.
The infectious diseases expert believes it’s almost time to move away from measuring and reporting on COVID-19 cases because of the likelihood many people aren’t testing for or reporting a positive case of COVID-19.
Yesterday, Dr Coleman said she’d also support moving away from reporting daily COVID-19 case numbers if the community called for that.
Locally, there are 140 patients in Canberra Hospital with the virus. Of these, three are in ICU and three require ventilation.
There are now 7355 (3946 PCR and 3409 RAT) known active infections in the Territory.
A total of 172,120 (102,469 PCR and 69,651 RAT) COVID-19 cases have been recorded since the pandemic began in March 2020.
The double-dose vaccination rate for the ACT’s five-plus population remains 97.4 per cent and 77.5 per cent of residents aged 16 and older have received a booster.
Of ACT residents aged five to 11, 69.4 per cent have received two doses of vaccine.
Interstate, NSW has reported 20 deaths overnight and 10,806 new cases of COVID-19.
There are now 2049 people in hospital with the virus and 58 people in ICUs around the state.
Victoria has reported 16 deaths overnight and 10,627 cases of COVID-19.
There are now 737 people hospitalised with the virus and 39 patients are in the state’s intensive care units.