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ACT Public Health Emergency extended as positive case is recorded

The ACT has confirmed one new case of COVID-19 overnight, and a further extension of the ACT Public Health Emergency has been announced.

ACT Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said the man was complying with all directions from ACT Health and was a low risk to the ACT community.

“The diplomat travelled with his wife and a driver who drove them from the [Sydney] airport to the ACT and both are and will continue to be in quarantine,” she said.

The ACT’s last recorded COVID-19 case was also a diplomat returning from overseas, who did not pass the virus on to anyone.

Dr Coleman, who had a confirmed COVID-19 checkpoint on 27 November, said it was unlikely she would be able to deliver a roadmap as soon as first hoped with the evolving situation in South Australia.

“This virus is tricky and very infectious, and we are seeing more and more people can have little to no symptoms and not know they are spreading it,” she said.

“As we have said previously, we are keen to provide surety for businesses and the community moving forward and I had indicated we would be able to provide a roadmap this week.

“I think, unfortunately, with the SA situation evolving so quickly, we need to take a little bit more time on what that means for us and how we reflect that in our restrictions moving forward.”

Around 400 travellers have entered the ACT from South Australia in the past two days, with a screening and testing station now operating at the Canberra Airport.

Out of those arrivals, seven people were tested for COVID-19 and are isolating while awaiting their results.

As first mentioned yesterday by Ms Stephen-Smith, Dr Coleman said the ACT would not close the border to the southern state at this stage and would be working with NSW when making that decision.

“At this time, the public health recommendation is that we do not need to be testing everyone arriving from South Australia,” Dr Coleman said. 

“If it comes to the point where there is widespread community transmission in South Australia, that might be the time which we would consider strongly recommend testing for everyone arriving from South Australia.”

Ms Stephen-Smith announced the ACT Public Health Emergency had been extended for another 90 days.

“Yesterday I signed the notifiable instrument to extend the public health emergency in the ACT under the Public Health Act,” she said.

“That has now been extended for a further 90 days to the 17 February [2021].”

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