Locked down Canberrans brace for more COVID-19 cases

By Shannon Jenkins

Thursday August 12, 2021

Andrew Barr
ACT chief minister Andrew Barr. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

ACT chief minister Andrew Barr has said it’s ‘inevitable’ that Canberra will record more COVID-19 cases on the first day of the territory’s week-long lockdown.

The ACT on Thursday recorded its first case of COVID-19 in more than a year, triggering a snap lockdown. Three more positive cases were reported shortly after the lockdown commenced.

The first COVID-19 case, a man in his 20s, had been infectious in the community since Sunday morning. Health authorities do not know the source of the infection.

More than 3000 close contacts have been identified for the exposure sites, which include venues in Canberra City, Woden, Fyshwick, Braddon, Manuka, Mitchell, Cook and Kingston.

Speaking to Sunrise on Friday morning, Barr said it was ‘inevitable that there will be more cases’.

“What we are endeavouring to do is to ensure that we both capture those people through our contact tracing and testing system, and that they are in isolation during their infectious period,” he said.

Barr is expected to deliver a COVID-19 update around midday.

Canberrans can only leave their homes for essential reasons — essential employment, healthcare (including a COVID-19 vaccination), essential groceries and supplies, and up to one hour of outdoor exercise — for the duration of the lockdown.

Mandatory mask wearing has been reintroduced, and gatherings have been banned. Childcare has remained open for essential purposes, and schools are expected to move to remote learning.

Announcing the lockdown on Thursday afternoon, Barr said the new case was the ‘most serious public health risk’ the ACT has faced in the past year. He directed members of the public to ‘please stay’ in their local area if possible, and to use the Check In CBR app.

Chief health officer Kerryn Coleman said authorities were notified of COVID-19 detected in wastewater late on Wednesday night, with a positive case confirmed the following morning.

The territory government has urged Canberrans to get tested if they experience any COVID-19 symptoms. To deal with increased demand, the government is setting up a new testing clinic at the Brindabella Business Park. Capacity and operating hours will also be ‘significantly increased’ at the Weston Creek Walk-In Centre and EPIC drive through clinic, the government said.

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