The ACT has recorded three new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, which marks the Territory’s first new recorded cases in over a month.
The infected individuals are one female and two males aged in their 20s all from the same household, and all linked to the Victorian outbreak.
Two of the new cases arrived in the ACT from a Melbourne hotspot on Thursday 2 July, and one is a household contact.
These three new cases bring the total number of ACT COVID-19 infections since the pandemic started to 111, while over 33,000 negative tests have been recorded.
When the individuals in question started showing symptoms they got tested and have mostly been in self-isolation while awaiting the results.
ACT Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman noted the infected individuals visited the Fyshwick Markets on Saturday 4 July between 3pm and 4pm, and Westfield Belconnen on Monday 6 July from 12noon to 12.30pm.
“Although we are confident the risk to the ACT community is low from these cases, we’re asking people at these locations at these times to be particularly vigilant,” Dr Coleman said.
“A small number of additional close contacts have been identified; we are following up these people in line with national guidelines as quickly as we can.”
Dr Coleman said to date there has been no evidence of community transmission occurring here in Canberra.
“It’s unlikely that we would see it within the next couple of days, so we would need to monitor this for at least the next fortnight to see if there is any community transmission in the ACT,” she said.
On Friday 3 July, the ACT Government initiated a Public Health Direction requiring anyone visiting the ACT from Victoria to quarantine for 14 days at their own expense or return home to Victoria at the earliest opportunity.
As of 12.01am today, Victorians travelling to the ACT and NSW are being turned away unless they have been granted an exemption under “exceptional circumstances”.
Dr Coleman asked anyone who entered the ACT from Victoria prior to the Public Health Direction being imposed to be “particularly vigilant for any symptoms”.
“We know that Victoria has a large degree of community transmission at present, if you have been in Victoria in last 14 days at any time and display any symptoms please present for testing,” she said.
There are currently several visitors to the ACT who are in hotel quarantine, and Dr Coleman confirmed that process will continue for any future visitors from Victoria.
ACT residents in Victoria will be able to return home, but they are required to notify ACT Health of who they are, how they are planning to return to the ACT and what their 14-day quarantine plan is. They will be allowed to quarantine at home.
At least “several checks” will be conducted on every person self-quarantining in the ACT.
Further easing of ACT restrictions likely to be ‘paused’
While announcing the new cases this afternoon, ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said it’s likely the implementation of Stage 3 of COVID-19 restrictions will be postponed “until we have a better understanding of the Victorian outbreak and the impact of that on the ACT”.
The ACT Chief Health Officer has a checkpoint tomorrow before any further easing of restrictions comes into effect.
It’s at this point that Dr Coleman she will make a final decision on whether this Friday is the right time to move.
“In next 24 hours I will have a serious look at what this means for the ACT, as well as how many travellers come in,” Dr Coleman said.
Mr Barr said the number one priority of the ACT Government is “the public health of all Canberrans”.
“If the health advice is that we should not move, we will not move from where we are now,” Mr Barr said.
“As much as the government wants to support the recovery of the Territory economy and to get jobs back … we have a checkpoint for this very reason.”
Dr Coleman said today that as of now she is not considering winding restrictions back.
“At most what would be requested is a pause,” she said.
The ACT Government has a dedicated COVID-19 website for all information about the health and economic response to the pandemic in the ACT.
The ACT Government also has a COVID-19 Helpline – 02 6207 7244 – which is open 8am-8pm daily.