25 November 2022

Vigil planned as COVID-19 cases keep growing, new infections up 20 per cent

| Lottie Twyford
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Rapid antigen test

Canberrans continue to report positive rapid antigen tests at high rates. Photo: Region.

COVID-19 infections have continued to rise in the Territory, with a 20 per cent increase on last week’s reported caseload.

It’s the highest number of weekly COVID-19 cases reported since weekly reporting began in September.

Experts warn it is still too early to say whether this wave has peaked but that is expected in coming weeks.

In the seven days to yesterday (Thursday, 24 November), 1757 (691 PCR and 1066 PCR) infections were reported to ACT Health.

That’s a 308 jump in cases compared to last week’s tally of 1449 (541 PCR and 908 RAT) recorded cases.

There are now 34 people with COVID-19 in the Territory’s hospitals, including one person in the ICU receiving ventilation.

ACT Health is now defining an active case as a patient who has tested positive to COVID-19 requiring COVID-19 specific precautions due to their infectious status.

Since March 2020, there have been 213,851 COVID-19 infections recorded locally.

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Hospitalisations and deaths are generally understood to peak some weeks after the peak of a wave.

Epidemiologists Professor Peter Collignon and Professor Adrian Esterman told Region earlier this month there is, however, a lot of uncertainty about what is coming this year.

Professor Esterman said it’s hard to model at the moment for a number of reasons.

“The first is that we have a mix of subvariants at the moment … each has the ability to evade our immune systems but at different levels and we don’t know what they are yet,” he said.

Professor Esterman said the other issue was how varied the population was – referring to some who have never been infected, some who’ve had COVID-19 once, some who’ve had it multiple times, as well as varied vaccination statuses.

“It takes a very brave person to model that,” he said.

Professor Collignon is anticipating this wave or “wavelet” has already started to peak and that caseloads will start falling again ahead of Christmas Day.

Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith has said she expects this wave to be flatter and longer than previous ones.

ACT Health’s latest weekly epidemiological report showed 17 per cent of reported cases were from individuals who had previously been infected.

During that reporting period, between 175 to 200 cases a day were recorded.

BA.5 remains the dominant variant in the Territory, but many new BA.5 and BA.2 subvariants continue to be identified through whole genome sequencing.

Vaccination rates continue to stall in the Territory.

Of the Territory’s five to 15 population, 77 per cent have now received two doses of vaccine; 78.5 per cent of those aged 16 and over have received three doses; 63.9 per cent of those aged 50 and over have received four doses.

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Meanwhile, a Vigil Against COVID organised by disability advocates and other activists will be held this Sunday at 2 pm outside Parliament.

The grassroot collective was formed in the wake of the National Cabinet decision to end mandatory isolation periods.

Craig Wallace, who is also Head of Policy at ACT group Advocacy for Inclusion, said the event was being held to mark the tragic milestone of 16,000 COVID-19-deaths.

“Uncaring governments have ignored our call for a minute’s silence in parliaments for the families, friends and elders who have died so we go to Parliament on Sunday to pay our own respects and protest the removal of protections and the lack of support for vulnerable people,” he said.

In the past week, NSW recorded 31,531 (13,364 RAT and 18,167PCR) new infections and 25 people died with the virus.

That’s a 3662 jump on last week.

There are now 1320 COVID-19 patients in the state’s hospitals and 32 people in ICU.

Victoria recorded 22,281 cases and 68 pandemic-related deaths.

The state’s seven-day rolling average for hospitalisations was 430 patients with 15 people in the ICU.

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SigmaOctantis8:13 am 26 Nov 22

OMG there’s one person in ICU! Quick it’s a national emergency!

“Uncaring governments have ignored our call for a minute’s silence in parliaments for the families, friends and elders who have died so we go to Parliament on Sunday to pay our own respects and protest the removal of protections and the lack of support for vulnerable people,”

Uncaring governments? I’d prefer that the government spends the small amount of time they do spend in Canberra productively, not wasting time on crusades like this.

William Newby7:49 am 26 Nov 22

How so? I agree with Gary, this Gov wastes far too much time on all things token. They wasted and entire day this year all taking their turn to give condolences to the Queen. Their time here is valuable, but frequently wasted.

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