Thu. May 19th, 2022


ACT’s health director Dr. Kerryn Coleman has signaled changes in the contact tracing system as the territory moves toward accepting “a degree of societal transfer”. “We see, as we have alluded to, what some of our processes may be when our numbers increase, and we have very seriously begun to be able to implement it if necessary,” she said at Sunday’s COVID-19 press conference. “Going forward, we will not be able to do that, or there will actually be no benefit in picking up every single case and actually going out and identifying every single contact.” Dr. Coleman said Monday that it would mean fewer exposure sites will be announced in the coming months. “These monitors and casual sites become less important as our focus … shifts from trying to find all cases to really trying to find them where we know they’ll have a greater impact.” ACT is also considering getting people to fill out online forms when testing positive, rather than contacting trackers who conduct phone interviews. “We are actually trying an online form at the moment,” she said Sunday. Dr. Coleman also said they would consider getting positive cases to notify their own quarantine contacts, “rather than trusting us to take the next step in contacting those contacts.” About 100 healthcare professionals are currently quarantined for five to 14 days due to COVID-19 exposures across Canberra Hospital. The head of health said on Monday that updating quarantine requirements for health professionals in the future would be “really challenging”, but could involve a “more nuanced risk consideration”. “It’s really challenging, isn’t it? Because healthcare is one of the options where we need to have the most protection, so the less circulation and transmission we have within healthcare, the better.” “What we do and I understand that the AHPPC and the National Cabinet are considering a risk-based approach to how we deal with healthcare workers, based on vaccination status as well as PPE coverage and other risk reduction strategies,” she said. “So the near future will have a more nuanced consideration of the risk of transmission to healthcare professionals based on the actual strategies that are in place to protect against transmission.” Dr. Coleman said she would start “marking” some of these things with the community on Tuesday when she would provide an update on the outbreak and an increase in cases seen over the past three days. NSW announced on Sunday a change for fully vaccinated close contacts, whereby they will only be quarantined for seven days instead of 14. Those who test negative on day six are allowed to leave quarantine, but must work from home where it is practically possible, do not participate in hospitality settings, and do not participate in high-risk settings, even if it is your workplace. Prime Minister Andrew Barr has previously said it would take months before significant changes were made to the methods. “I would not expect radical changes before October 15, but before December 1 and beyond, we may well have switched to another model,” he said. “There is still a lot of political work, a lot of expert advice to receive, absorb and then make a decision.” The test, trace, isolate and quarantine system (TTIQ) has been part of a triple approach to contain the virus in the field along with vaccinations and restrictions on public health. As vaccination rates rise and public health restrictions are relaxed in line with national plan, the TTIQ system will have to adapt to higher daily case rates as communities plan to live with the virus. Dr. Coleman also said it was unlikely the ACT would return to daily case rates under the 20s, after a record 52 cases repeated Friday and Saturday. “I do not think we are coming down to under 20, I think we are looking at the 30s, 40s, 50s as a minimum going forward.” Our coverage of the health and safety aspects of this outbreak of COVID-19 in ACT and lockdown is free for all to access. However, we rely on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you can, you can subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support. You can also sign up for our regular newsletter. Our journalists work hard to deliver local, up-to-date news to the community. Here’s how to continue accessing our trusted content:


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