COVID-19 pandemic in the Australian Capital Territory

Last updated

COVID-19 pandemic in the Australian Capital Territory
Disease COVID-19
Virus strain SARS-CoV-2
Location Australian Capital Territory, Australia
First outbreak Wuhan, Hubei, China
DateAs of 16 October 2021
Confirmed cases1,538
Active cases495
Hospitalised cases15
Critical cases10
Ventilator cases5
Recovered1,032
Deaths
11
Fatality rate1.07%
Test positivity rate0.62% (last 7 days)
VaccinationsFirst dose: 235,683,
Second dose: 172,327
Government website
www.covid19.act.gov.au

The COVID-19 pandemic in the Australian Capital Territory is part of the ongoing worldwide pandemic of the coronavirus disease 2019 ( COVID-19 ) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). After one case of the delta variant in mid-August 2021, the Territory went into lockdown. By 26 September, the ACT had its first COVID-19 related death since mid-April 2020, nearly 18 months, followed by 3 more deaths in the first week of October 2021. As of 16 October 2021 there were 495 active cases of delta variant COVID-19 in the ACT. 8 deaths during the outbreak since 12 August 2021 brought total deaths to 11. [1]

Contents

Timeline

2020

Canberra Avenue during what would usually be the morning peak hour in May 2020 Canberra Avenue, Fyshwick in peak hour (49994238137).jpg
Canberra Avenue during what would usually be the morning peak hour in May 2020

On 16 March 2020, the ACT government declared a public health emergency. [2] All visits to the Alexander Maconochie prison were cancelled from 23 March, but there was "increased access to telephones" for prisoners to keep in touch with their families. [3]

The third, and last recorded death in the ACT occurred on 15 April 2020, a passenger from the Ruby Princess. [4]

In mid-June 2020, The ACT Government froze business registration, development applications and parking fees. Chief Minister Andrew Barr said " … this is one of the many ways the government can help address the cost of doing business, and the cost of living, during this pandemic." [5] Rate rebates were given for all commercial properties, for residential properties rebates were given and rate deferrals also offered, stamp duty and payroll tax concessions were also available. [6]

In late June 2020, public transport fares in the ACT were frozen for at least 12 months to aid in economic recovery. Birth, death and marriage registrations, building, domestic animal, fire and emergency services levy, land title, public health, security industry fees, water and sewerage charges were also frozen. Public transport usage was then half pre-pandemic levels, but motor vehicle usage had returned to normal. [7]

On 18 July 2020, it was announced a sitting of Federal Parliament, scheduled for the first two weeks of August, had been cancelled. Medical advice was that, due to increased transmission of COVID-19 in Victoria, and the upward trend in NSW as well, there was a "significant risk" if members were to return to Canberra from all over Australia. Prime Minister Morrison requested that the sitting be cancelled. Parliament returned in August with some Members and Senators participating via video links from remote locations. [8]

On 9 September 2020 in Canberra, the "Check in CBR" sign-in/contact tracing app was introduced. [9]

ChooseCBR vouchers

In late November the ACT government announced the "ChooseCBR" electronic voucher discount scheme to help stimulate local businesses suffering economically from the "coronavirus recession". Residents could receive several renewable vouchers worth up to A$40 per day. [10] Owing to slow take up the scheme was extended a few days from 21 December to Christmas Eve. About 40,000 people had signed up, but less than A$150,000 of A$500,000 allocated had been claimed as of midday that day. [11]

In May 2021 an expanded ChooseCBR scheme was announced. Bigger discounts were offered and more money, A$2 million, was allocated. [12] The new scheme proved popular when launched on 9 June, but its website crashed and the scheme was suspended a week. In the two days it operated, over A$300,000 had been claimed, 10 times that claimed in the December 2020 trial. [13]

2021

A COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Canberra during May 2021 Garran Surge Centre May 2021.jpg
A COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Canberra during May 2021

On 31 January 2021, Federal politicians flying in from Western Australia had to quarantine for five days when a sudden lockdown was declared in Perth and two adjoining regions. Parliament was scheduled to resume on 2 February. [14]

On 17 February 2021, the Australian Capital Territorys' public health emergency declaration was extended 90 days to 18 May 2021. Every three months during the pandemic, the ACT government has lengthened the public health emergency. [15]

On 22 February 2021, the first Canberran received a COVID-19 vaccination. She was a 22-year-old registered nurse, and a member of a COVID-19 testing team. [16]

On 23 June, due to a growing cluster of COVID-19 around Bondi in Sydney, the ACT Health Minister, Rachel Stephen-Smith, advised against travel to the Greater Sydney area. From 4pm that day the ACT Government placed restrictions on recent travellers from: [17]

Unless they have an approved exemption, non-ACT residents who have been in any of the listed LGAs in NSW will find the border in effect closed to them. Canberra residents who re-enter the ACT that have been in any of the seven areas in the preceding 14 days have to register with ACT Health. [17]

Canberra residents who visited the Greater Sydney, Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong or Shellharbour regions in the preceding 14 days need to make an online declaration with ACT Health. If they left the designated LGAs after 4pm on 23 June, they must isolate at home, and only leave it for "essential purposes" until 11:59pm on 30 June. [17]

ACT residents subject to the stay-at-home order can only leave home for: [17]

They also had to wear a mask while outdoors, unless vigorously exercising, or under 12 years-of-age. [17]

On 23 June the Handmade Market Canberra was postponed for three weeks "due to COVID concerns". ACT Health advised that the markets "should not go ahead in the wake of the coronavirus cases in NSW". The markets were due to return for the first time in 18 months on the weekend of 24–26 June, but were rescheduled to 16–18 July. The postponement resulted in the early launch of a Handmade Australia website. [18]

On 28 June, wearing of masks became compulsory in the ACT when in indoor public venues. ACT residents returning from the city of Darwin, Palmerston and Litchfield LGAs were subject to stay-at-home orders. [19] The mask requirement was lifted on 10 July. [20]

On 1 July the ACT government announced that from 15 July use of the Check in CBR app would be mandatory, in department stores, supermarkets, take away services, petrol stations, all ride-sharing services and on public transport. [21]
As of 1 July, there were no new cases of COVID-19 In the ACT for 57 days, and no cases of transmission in the general ACT community for 356 days. [21]

On 7 July, stay-at-home orders in the ACT were extended to 16 July after NSW extended its lockdown by 7 days. [20]

From 11:59pm on July 11, Victoria closed its border to all Australian Capital Territory, and New South Wales, residents to try to prevent the delta variant entering the state. ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr tweeted that it was "incredibly disappointing and frustrating" after more than a year with no local COVID-19 cases that the border was being closed to Canberrans. He continued "Canberra is not part of Greater Sydney." [22]

On 14 July, a national women's safety summit, scheduled for 29–30 July at Parliament House, was postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney. It was rescheduled to 6–7 September. [23]

On 26 July, it was announced that, from 2 August until 3 September, Parliament House would come under COVID-19 restrictions to "minimise non-essential activity" as politicians arrive for the next legislative sitting. All public galleries will close and the general public unable to enter the building. Politicians attending, and their staff, will be "substantially reduced" and remote participation technology used in the houses. Physical distancing, in chambers and meeting rooms, will return. Use of the Check-in CBR app extends to all food and beverage venues open under takeaway only restrictions. [24] [25]

2021 lockdown

A closed playground in August 2021 Closed playground in Wanniassa August 2021.jpg
A closed playground in August 2021

On 12 August the ACT, including Canberra, went into lockdown at 5pm for an initial seven days. This followed the first locally acquired case of COVID-19 since 10 July 2020, over a year, who was assessed as potentially infectious in the community since Sunday, 8 August. As of 16 August 2021 the source of the Gungahlin persons' infection is unknown. [26] [27] The lockdown announcement triggered panic buying in the Territory. [28] Three close contacts of the first detected case were later found to be infected, increasing the active cases to four. [29] Genomic sequencing confirmed he had the Delta variant. [30]

In response, NSW ordered that anyone who was in the ACT since 5 August must isolate under stay-at-home rules and may only leave their residence with a "reasonable excuse". [31]

On 13 August, two more positive cases were detected in the ACT increasing the number of active cases there to six. Four of the cases are linked to the original case, an infected school student is not known to be linked. There have been 1,862 close contacts linked to the first case. [30]

On 16 August, the first confirmed case of an aged care worker being infected was reported, and the lockdown was extended for a further two weeks until 2 September 2021. [32]

By 18 August about 400 essential medical staff were in quarantine, stretching the ACTs' capacity in COVID testing and other areas. Some treating clinics had to close early when they reached full capacity. [33]

On 23 August the ACT reported 30 new cases, for a total of 167 active cases. [34]

On 31 August the ACT lockdown was extended again until 17 September. [35]

On 4 September, the ACT recorded its highest total of 32 new confirmed cases, exceeding the territory's previous record of 30 on 23 August. [34] [36]

On 14 September the lockdown was extended for a further 4 weeks until 11:59pm on 15 October. This followed 22 new cases being reported. By the same day, there were 252 active cases in the ACT. There were 10 hospitalised, with 2 in intensive care, 1 requiring ventilation. [37]

On 26 September the first COVID death in the ACT since mid-April 2020 occurred, nearly 18 months apart, increasing the total number ACT COVID deaths to 4. The man was fully vaccinated, but in his 90s, and undergoing end-of-life treatment at Calvary Haydon Aged Care. [38]

The same day in the ACT there were: [38]

  • 19 new COVID-19 cases, at least 8 infectious while in the community.
  • 17 linked to known cases or clusters, 2 were unlinked
  • 8 people were hospitalised with the virus, 3 in ICU and on ventilation [38]
October

By 4 October 2 more deaths occurred, both women in their 80s, increasing the total number ACT COVID deaths to 6. One was fully vaccinated, and also undergoing end-of-life treatment at Calvary Haydon Aged Care. The other was admitted to The Canberra Hospital on 30 September, and had palliative care for COVID-19 and other health issues [39]

The same day in the ACT there were: [39]

  • 28 new COVID-19 cases, at least 16 infectious while in the community
  • 16 linked to known cases or clusters, 14 were unlinked
  • 18 people were hospitalised with the virus, 5 in ICU, 1 on ventilation
    • youngest in hospital in their 20s, oldest their 80s
  • 362 active cases

The ACT first dose vaccination rate was at 95%. [39]

By 6 October 1 more death occurred, a women in her 70s, increasing the total number ACT COVID deaths to 7. She was also undergoing end-of-life treatment at Calvary Haydon Aged Care. [40]

The same day in the ACT there were: [40]

  • 28 new COVID-19 cases, at least 5 infectious while in the community, 11 in quarantine during their infectious period
  • 19 linked to known cases or clusters, 9 were being investigated
  • 16 people were hospitalised with the virus, 7 in ICU, 4 on ventilation

The ACT two dose vaccination rate was at 66%. [40]

Event cancellations

Statistics

COVID-19 cumulative cases in the Australian Capital Territory [57]

COVID-19 daily cases in the Australian Capital Territory [57]

See also

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