4 November 2022

Territory records 910 COVID-19 infections, one death as warnings of a new wave abound

| Lottie Twyford
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nurse holding a covid test

Cases and new variants are on the rise around the country once again. Photo: Canberra Health Services.

In the last week, the ACT has reported 910 (393 PCR and 517 RAT) new COVID-19 infections and the death of a man in his 70s with the virus.

The Territory’s pandemic death toll is now 128.

Last week, 731 infections were reported. Since March 2020, a total of 209,414 infections have been recorded.

As of yesterday, there were 37 people in hospital with the virus, including one in the ICU. No one requires ventilation.

The increased numbers come as warnings abound of a new wave of the virus hitting the country.

In a social media update yesterday, NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said the state was experiencing an increase in infections and changes to the variants that were circulating – both of which indicated the next wave was beginning.

“By looking at all the local information we have, and what’s happening overseas, we believe COVID cases will rise in the coming weeks,” she said.

For the moment, Dr Chant said BA.4 and BA.5 remain the most dominant variants, but XBB, BQ.1.1 and BA.2 sublineages are all growing in prevalence.

Both XBB and BQ.1 have mutations that help them escape existing immunity from vaccines and prior infection.

The comments made by the NSW Chief Health Officer have also been echoed by her Victorian counterpart Dr Brett Sutton – despite the fact it is no longer mandatory to report a positive COVID-19 diagnosis in either NSW or Victoria.

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According to ACT Health’s most recent weekly epidemiological report, 23 different variants and subvariants have now been detected in the Territory since the beginning of the year.

BA.5 remains the most common variant detected locally, but Health is “continuing to monitor” the situation.

The health directorate does not yet know the significance of the detected subvariants.

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During the period covered by the report, the Territory recorded 828 infections in the week between Monday, 24 October and Sunday, 30 October.

Cases have been steadily increasing for the last month.

In that reporting period, 11 per cent of all cases were reported in people who had previously been infected with the virus. That percentage has remained between 10 and 20 per cent in the last month. While some fluctuations are expected, it is expected to increase steadily over time as immunity wanes and new variants and subvariants emerge.

PCR tests in the week remained stable while the test positivity rate continued to trend upwards, as it has done since early October. It is currently around 10 per cent compared to its peak of 28 per cent in early July.

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The availability of PCR testing in the Territory was significantly reduced last Friday (28 October) with the closure of the last drive-through testing clinic.

Operating these clinics has been an expensive and labour-intensive exercise for the government.

The Garran Surge Centre is now open from 10 am to 6 pm as a combined PCR testing and Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) distribution hub and the Holt COVID-19 testing centre operated by Capital Pathology is open from 8 am to 4 pm on the northside.

Vaccination rates are essentially stalled in the Territory, an exception being those aged 50 and over where fourth doses continue to increase.

Of the Territory’s five to 15 population, 77.2 per cent have now received two doses of vaccine; 78.4 per cent of those aged 16 and over have received three doses; 61.5 per cent of those aged 50 and over have received four doses.

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In the last week, NSW recorded 12,450 new cases (5599 RAT and 6851 PCR) and 24 people died with the virus.

There are now 809 COVID-19 patients in the state’s hospitals and 17 people in ICU.

Last week, the state recorded 10,050 infections.

Victoria recorded 10,226 cases and 24 pandemic-related deaths.

The state’s seven-day rolling average for hospitalisations was 231 patients and seven people in the ICU.

That compares to the 8537 infections reported last week.

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