There has been one new case of COVID-19 recorded in the ACT in the past 24 hours, marking four new cases for the Territory in the past two days and bringing the jurisdiction’s total to 112.
Today’s new confirmed case is a male in his 20s and is a close contact of the three cases confirmed yesterday, two of whom were linked to a Melbourne hotspot.
The individual is currently in quarantine and has cooperated with ACT Health as they undertake contact tracing.
There is one public location the individual attended prior to his symptoms but during his infectious period: the Vodafone store in Gungahlin on Monday 6 July between 3pm and 3.30pm.
ACT Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said the risk to the broader community was low, including to staff and the public who were in the store at the same time as this individual.
Anyone who attended this location during these times should monitor themselves for symptoms. ACT Health is following up with management of the store.
“As far as I’m aware not one of the four cases has the COVIDSafe app,” Dr Coleman said.
Victorians travelling to the ACT and NSW have been turned away since Wednesday (8 July) unless they have been granted an exemption under “exceptional circumstances”.
There are currently 168 people who have returned to the ACT and are now in quarantine either at home or in hotels, while the ACT Government works through approximately 400 requests to enter the ACT, from both residents and non-residents.
ACT Policing are leading the ACT Government’s compliance and monitoring of those people in quarantine.
Two of yesterday’s three confirmed cases arrived in the ACT from a Melbourne hotspot on Thursday 2 July.
“It is possible, probably likely, that there will be new cases emerging from these return travellers in the coming weeks … we need to be in a position to respond quickly,” Dr Coleman said.
“It is highly likely we will see community transmission at some point.”
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr has asked anyone in the ACT who has been in Melbourne at all in the past three weeks to self-isolate and to get tested if they display any symptoms.
ACT Health has noticed a spike in COVID-19 testing, with 625 tests conducted yesterday.
That high demand is expected to continue into the days and weeks ahead, and the ACT Government is looking to add more public testing facilities across Canberra.
Restrictions to be ‘paused’ for at least a fortnight
It was announced today that Dr Coleman has decided to pause the move to Stage 3 easing of restrictions that was planned for tomorrow (10 July) following a checkpoint undertaken in the past 24 hours after the small localised COVID-19 outbreak.
Step 2.2 restrictions will remain in place with another formal checkpoint to be undertaken in a fortnight’s time; in a weeks’ time community contact sports competition will be considered separately.
Dr Coleman refused to rule out moving backward with restrictions were the situation to get much worse in the coming fortnight.
She said that the decision had been made due to the evolving situation in Victoria given it remains unknown how it will impact the ACT.
“With the border restrictions here in the ACT and in NSW only coming into effect earlier this week, we need time to assess how effective they will be in slowing the spread of the virus,” she said.
Mr Barr said the ACT is now far better placed to manage an outbreak than when the pandemic commenced; with testing, contact tracing, and capacity within the health system all improved.
“As restrictions have been eased around the country there was always a likelihood of outbreaks and that the virus would find its way back into the ACT,” Mr Barr said.
ACT Health is continuing to take appropriate public health action in line with national guidelines:
“It only takes one person with COVID-19 to come into contact with others to create a cluster and potentially start a new wave of COVID-19. We don’t want to go backwards so it is important people don’t become complacent or careless with their actions.
“Do not travel to Victoria for any reason other than absolutely essential purposes. Once you return to the ACT, you will be required to quarantine for 14 days.
“We again ask Canberrans to remember four requirements in any situation they face in the coming weeks:
- Avoid large crowds;
- Keep 1.5 metres apart whenever possible;
- Continue good hand and respiratory hygiene; and
- Stay home if you are unwell and get tested if you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.”
The ACT Government has a dedicated COVID- 19 website for all information about the health and economic response to the pandemic in the ACT. For further information visit www.covid19.act.gov.au.
The ACT Government also has a helpline to assist Canberrans through the challenges of COVID-19. The COVID-19 Helpline is (02) 6207 7244 and open between 8am and 8pm daily.