Thu. May 26th, 2022

ACT has registered a further 19 COVID-19 cases, as a cluster in the disability community has been confirmed among the area’s 121 active cases.

Of the new cases announced today, six were in the community while contagious, and of those, a total of 121 cases had 117 links to known cases or sites of exposure.

ACT Prime Minister Andrew Barr confirmed this morning that a cluster had now also been identified within Canberra’s disability community.

He said 14 people in the sector were affected by COVID-19, both people with disabilities and people with disabilities.

“The government recognizes the anxiety that this causes and can advise that we have actively supported the people affected in the wider community,” he said.

ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith confirmed that four people with a disability were among the positive cases, seven ACT-based disability helpers and one trader.

Stephen-Smith said two workers based in the surrounding New South Wales region had also tested positive for the virus, but were included in the NSW figures.

She said five disability providers were directly affected.

Vaccination rates among people with disabilities are a ‘source of frustration’

Mrs Stephen-Smith noted that the vaccination rate among people with disabilities in ACT had been a “source of frustration” for her, despite being above national average, when she said it had been a Commonwealth responsibility to vaccinate people with disability and support workers.

She said only about 50 percent of NDIS participants aged 16 and over in ACT had received their first dose of the vaccine. The national average is 43 per cent.

Ms Stephen-Smith said the ACT government had set up the Access and Sensory Clinic in Garran to help support the Commonwealth rollout of vaccines for people with disabilities, disability support staff and carers, and so far it had administered 1,273 doses.

However, she said the clinic was not designed to vaccinate everyone.

“We have done it to support Commonwealth responsibility, but it was never meant for everyone to do it,” she said.

“It has obviously received very good and positive feedback and we will continue to work with the Commonwealth to increase these vaccination rates.”

But Mr Barr again rejected the idea of ​​imposing vaccinations on workers in the wider areas of health, the elderly and the disabled.

“I think it’s too early to have a discussion on mandate,” he said.

“We need to get to the point where everyone has had the opportunity to be vaccinated before we get to these issues.”

Vaccines are not the only way to open up ACT, Barr says

A man wearing glasses and a suit is speaking in front of a lectern
In just over a week, ACT has gone from zero to more than 100 COVID-19 cases. (

ABC News: Mark Moore

)

When asked about the federal government’s calls to reopen states and territories after 70-80 percent of the population received vaccines, Barr Canberrans reminded that vaccines were not a golden ticket.

He warned that there would be more lockdowns in ACT as public health response to the Delta variant developed.

“We need to be very clear, this broad-brush language of ‘open up’ should not be understood as meaning that there will be no guidelines for public health, no health settings and nothing in place to support the unvaccinated,” he said.

Barr called on Canberrans to be vaccinated to protect the community, but said he was concerned about the lack of vaccines for children under 12.

“The higher the overall community vaccination rate we can achieve, the more protection there is for the non-vaccinated,” he said.

“And it’s worrying, and I think it should be for all the leaders of our nation.”

A large blue building stands with a red and gray building next to it and a sign with 'Warrumbul Lodge'
A positive COVID-19 case has been identified at the Australian National University’s Warrumbul Lodge.(

Delivered: UniLodge

)

Public housing complex identified as potential exposure site

Overnight, it was announced that a student at an ANU residential hall, Warrumbul Lodge, had tested positive for COVID-19, but they had been isolated in a stand-alone unit since the beginning of Canberra’s lockdown.

Chief Health Officer Kerryn Coleman said there were now 15,500 self-identified close contacts in the ACT and over 300 exposure sites.

And she added that there was now an extra person in the hospital with COVID-19 who received treatment for the virus but was in a stable condition.

A woman with gray hair speaks at a press conference
Dr Kerryn Coleman says one more person is now in hospital with COVID-19 but is in a stable condition.(

ABC News: Mark Moore

)

Deputy Chief Yvette Berry said a potential exposure site had been identified on the Condamine Court public housing complex after a positive case visited the building.

Ms Berry said she was talking about public housing when Housing Minister Rebecca Vassarotti was in quarantine after being identified as a contact to an exposure site.

Berry said the government had “learned a lot” from Victoria’s experience with COVID-19 cases in public housing, and several government agencies were working to ensure residents felt informed and supported.

“It’s about making sure we make that one-on-one face-to-face contact, of course, in a COVIDSafe way,” she said.

Yesterday, ACT Policing made 450 traffic stops and issued two directions to leave the territory.

Over 3,600 COVID-19 tests were conducted over the past 24 hours, with the prime minister urging everyone to be tested to use public test sites today — ahead of heavy rain from Monday.

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