Two Canberrans test positive amid hotel quarantine

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Pacific Suites Hotel quarantine hub.

TWO Canberrans arriving in hotel quarantine overnight have returned a “weak positive” test result for COVID-19, according to ACT Health.

The mandatory day one test followed repatriation flights that arrived on Tuesday (March 2) and returned 147 residents back home to the capital.

A further 31 Australian passengers headed to Sydney after first touching down in Canberra.

The positive test results were in one male in his 40s and another who was a teenager.

Both individuals were not known to previously have COVID-19 overseas, had no signs of the virus boarding the flight and have now been labelled asymptomatic.

ACT Health, who are supporting the pair in quarantine at the Pacific Hotel Canberra, have suggested the weak positive results could be “historical overseas acquired infections”.

Further testing of the men are being conducted on Wednesday to investigate whether the cases are in fact historical.

“People with a historical infection of COVID-19 are no longer infectious and are not a risk to the community,” a spokesperson on behalf of ACT Health said.

The ACT has now recorded 120 positive cases among the 173,569 Canberrans, including nearly 600 in the past 24 hours, who have also tested negative.

The last “weak positive” case in Canberra occurred on February 23 off the last repatriation flight, but the returning male diplomat was not counted in the ACT Health figures because he contracted the virus overseas.

Depending on further testing over the next 10 days, ACT Health is concerned about the possibility of prolonged shedding of virus fragments.

The reinfection is known to happen intermittently for up to several months after a person is, for all intents and purposes, no longer infectious.

But ACT Health also adds that Canberra has “strong systems in place” for hotel quarantine that are designed to “reduce the risk” of COVID-19 transmission.

To ensure that zero transmissions enters the community, both medical and hotel staff in the quarantine are wearing personal protective equipment while following stringent infection control processes and participating in the Safeguarding Canberrans program, in which they undergo daily symptom screening and regular COVID-19 testing.

Most of the workers have also had their first vaccines to protect against coronavirus.

The office of Minister for Health, Rachel Stephen-Smith, has been contacted for comment in regards to whether Canberra residents should be concerned over the government offering a hotel quarantine point in the city.

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