8 July 2022

Territory records 1701 new COVID-19 infections, hospitals tighten visitor restrictions

| Ian Bushnell
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Outside view of Canberra hospital emergency department

It’s now recommended that visitors to high-risk areas of Canberra Hospital return a negative test result every 72 hours. Photo: File.

The ACT has recorded 1701 (918 PCR and 783 RAT) new COVID-19 infections in the latest reporting period to 8 pm last night, and ACT Health has tightened visitor restrictions at hospitals in response to higher caseloads.

As of today, there are 137 patients in Canberra Hospital with the virus. Of these, four are in the ICU and three require ventilation. No deaths were reported.

There are now 7781 known active infections in the Territory – up on yesterday’s record high of 7734.

A total of 167,804 COVID-19 cases have been recorded since the pandemic began in March 2020.

Yesterday, there were 135 people in hospital and the Territory recorded 1292 cases.

The double-dose vaccination rate for the ACT’s five-plus population remains 97.4 per cent and 77.4 per cent of residents aged 16 and older have received a booster.

Of ACT residents aged five to 11, 69.1 per cent have received two doses of vaccine.

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High-risk areas of the Territory’s hospitals, such as cancer wards, are now encouraging a PCR testing regime for visitors.

Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith earlier this week said PCR testing would be mandatory, but this has since been adjusted to a ‘recommendation’.

People identified as a support person for someone in a high-risk area are required to undertake a rapid antigen test every 48 hours or a PCR every 72 hours where possible before visiting these areas of the hospital.

A rapid antigen test is encouraged for anyone who intends to visit someone in hospital no matter which ward they are in.

Visitors will also be asked not to eat and drink in hospital wards, reducing the need for people to remove their masks.

Ms Stephen-Smith urged visitors to wear their masks correctly when in hospital and stressed it was a matter of personal responsibility.

Man stands outside cancer centre

Associate Professor Paul Craft said it was still unclear how the outbreak on the cancer ward started. Photo: Canberra Health Services.

Recently, TCH cancer ward 14B was the site of a COVID-19 outbreak which was detected through routine testing of staff, visitors and patients.

Clinical Director of the Canberra Region Cancer Centre Associate Professor Paul Craft said last week that although the worst was avoided, he was “very concerned” that an outbreak had occurred in that ward in the first place.

Some hospitals in Southern NSW have also been required to adjust visiting rules in the short term in response to clusters that had emerged on-site.

Earlier this week, people had been asked not to visit patients at Pambula Hospital and only visit patients at South East Regional Hospital if the visit was essential on compassionate grounds.

But a spokesperson for Southern NSW Local Health District stressed there had been no overarching changes to visitor rules to NSW hospitals.

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Interstate, NSW has reported seven deaths overnight and 12,768 new cases of COVID-19.

There are now 1901 people in hospital with the virus and 60 people in ICUs around the state.

Victoria has reported nine deaths overnight and 9676 cases of COVID-19.

There are now 629 people hospitalised with the virus and 37 patients are in the state’s intensive care units.

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