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Canberra Today -1°/6° | Sunday, August 7, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

ACT nears the Omicron peak, says Barr

THE ACT is close to reaching a peak in cases and hospitalisations of the Omicron variant sweeping the community, says Chief Minister Andrew Barr.

“Case numbers have continued to increase in the ACT but not at the levels seen in larger jurisdictions. Local modelling indicates that we are likely close to reaching a peak in cases and hospitalisations from this Omicron wave,” he says.

“Genomic sequencing indicates that 98 per cent of the virus circulating in the ACT is Omicron. Hospitalisations have increased in recent weeks, consistent with increasing case numbers in the community. Most of these cases have been admitted to general wards and the average length of stay for patients with the omicron variant has reduced to around two days. A small number of hospital admissions require ICU care, and most of these patients report being unvaccinated.

While the modelling indicates Canberra is close to peaking with Omicron, Mr Barr says the ACT is prepared if the outbreak continues.

“The ACT is leading the nation on vaccinations.  Almost 4500 children aged 5-11 have been vaccinated in the ACT since Monday, the highest proportion of any jurisdiction in the nation with 11.1 per cent receiving a first dose in the first three days,” he says.

“Nationally, the coverage is around half of that at 6.2 per cent;  26.8% of eligible Canberrans (18+) have already received their third dose of a vaccine.  Again well ahead of the national coverage. Vaccine supply into the ACT is currently steady and predictable. Anyone who is eligible should make their booster booking as soon as possible, this is the best defence against the omicron variant, it remains the best way to prevent serious illness and reduce transmission and disease.

With rapid antigen tests in short supply, Mr Barr says the ACT testing system has been under significant strain for the past month. 64,893 PCR tests have been conducted since the beginning of this year.

“With supply increasing, the ACT government will be able to make more Rapid Antigen Tests available for free in coming days. For example, tomorrow at the Kambah testing facility RATs will be available in place of PCR Testing from 10am, PCR testing will resume next Monday. Priority for all testing sites is given to household close contacts, high risk exposures to positive cases and individuals with symptoms of COVID-19.  As further supply becomes available, tests will be available in a broader range of settings,” he says.


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