5 May 2020

UPDATED: Third ACT COVID-19 case, passengers on relevant Murrays bus must quarantine

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman speaking at today’s press conference. Photo: Michelle Kroll, Region Media.

The ACT Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerryn Coleman, has advised this morning that the ACT now has its third case of COVID-19 after a positive test was confirmed last night.

Speaking at a press conference today, Dr Coleman said the female patient in her 70s had travelled from Indonesia and returned to Canberra on a Murrays bus on Saturday.

Several family members and travel close contacts have been identified by the ACT Government and are being contacted directly. ACT Health is working with the airline and the bus company to identify any other individuals who are close contacts as a priority.

People in rows 41-45 on flight GA712 from Jakarta to Sydney, which arrived at 9.30 am on 14 March, are considered a ‘close contact’. Any Canberrans sitting in these rows are asked to quarantine themselves and call the Communicable Disease Control Section of ACT Health on 02 5124 9213 for further advice.

However, anyone else travelling on this flight in other rows is not considered to be a close contact. They should monitor their health until 28 March but Dr Coleman said self-quarantine is not required.

People who travelled on a Murrays bus from Sydney Airport to Canberra, departing at 12.25 pm on 14 March are, however, considered to be a close contact. All Canberrans on this bus should quarantine themselves and call the Communicable Disease Control Section of ACT Health for further advice.

The patient is currently at home after being discharged from Canberra Hospital and is self-isolating with ACT Health support.

Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said that close contact is defined as a prolonged period of more than two hours in the 24 hours before the onset of symptoms in a confirmed case. She said that ACT Health will always communicate with the community if there is a risk.

However, said that did not necessarily include full details of every movement made by a confirmed patient.

Minister Stephen-Smith said the general public “do not need to know every single place a person has been. Many [places] will provide virtually no risk of exposure”.

“We are doing everything we can to prevent the spread and ensure people have the information they need,” she said. “We know that this situation will continue to evolve. We are in a good position to respond.”

Minister Stephen-Smith said the first port of call should always be to call their GP or go to Weston Creek walk-in centre. Staff at any of the four walk-in centres can also assess people.

Calvary Public Hospital also now has a dedicated respiratory assessment clinic, operating Monday to Friday between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm. This is intended primarily for healthcare workers but is also available to the public as a diversion from Calvary emergency.

Canberra Hospital. Photo: George Tsotsos.

The ACT now has three confirmed cases of COVID-19.

The ACT’s first coronavirus case was a Canberra man aged in his 30s who tested positive for COVID-19 on 11 March after presenting at the Weston Walk-in Centre.

He had been interstate in the previous two weeks, and travelling overseas before that and ACT Health says they have traced all his contacts.

The ACT’s second confirmed case of COVID-19 is believed to be a man in his 30s employed at Flight Centre in Manuka. It is understood he was exposed to the virus while attending a private event in NSW. Contacts were being traced at the Art Not Apart event at New Acton on Saturday from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm, and then at Capital Brewing Company at Fyshwick from 5:00 pm to 6.30 pm.

Under the public health emergency declared on Monday by Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith, which will last five days before being renewed, Dr Coleman now has powers to force people to self-quarantine.

The community should continue to stay up to date on developments through the ACT Health website (www.health.act.gov.au) and social media channels.

People who are concerned and want further information on the virus can also call the Australian Government’s Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080. The line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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