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ACT nearing peak of Omicron COVID wave: Chief Minister Andrew Barr | The Canberra Times


coronavirus, covid, covid-19, omicorn, covid canberra, covid act

The ACT is likely close to reaching a peak in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations in the latest wave of Omicron variant infections, Chief Minister Andrew Barr has said. The variant is now the predominant strain of COVID-19 in the ACT, while most intensive care patients receiving treatment after contracting the virus report being unvaccinated. Mr Barr said case numbers had increased in the ACT, but the length of hospital stays had reduced to around two days and local modelling predicted the peak would soon be reached. “The ACT’s broad public health objective continues to focus on reducing community transmission and disease through strong vaccination programs and public health measures such as mask mandates, density limits in venues and restrictions on high risk settings,” Mr Barr said in a statement. “This is reducing pressure on our hospitals and protecting those most vulnerable.” The ACT reported 1020 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, and there were 24 people in hospital receiving treatment for the disease at 8pm on Wednesday. Three people were in intensive care and two were being ventilated. The seven-day rolling average daily case number in the ACT is presently over 1100, which is the highest rate of community transmission the territory has experienced since the pandemic began. Meanwhile, rapid antigen tests will be distributed at an ACT COVID-19 testing clinic for the first time on Friday, after 10,000 of the diagnostic kits arrived from the national stockpile. Acting Health Minister Chris Steel said rapid tests would be given out to eligible people at the Kambah testing site. “We’re expecting that people will take away those two tests and administer those themselves at home and report the positive result through the ACT COVID-19 website,” Mr Steel said. “We are expecting tens of thousands of more rapid antigen tests to be delivered over the next week and we’ll have hundreds of thousands more, and over 1 million, over the coming weeks. “This will give us the supply that we’ll use both for those testing centres and direct delivery in a range of settings.” The current shipment is expected to be completely exhausted on Friday. Testing clinics in the ACT came under significant pressure on Thursday, after contracted sites were forced to close due to a shortage of reagent, a material used to process PCR tests. The Mitchell drive-through and Garran walk-in clinics reached capacity early on Thursday, while the Kambah, Nicholls and Holt clinics were shut due to supply shortages. Mr Steel said Kambah, Nicholls and Holt would be closed until at least Monday for PCR testing, after Capital Pathology secured more reagent and cleared a backlog in its system. Omicron has established itself as the dominant variant in the ACT while the coronavirus is disproportionately affecting people aged between 18 and 44, who make up most of the new cases identified since mid-December. Almost 98 per cent of a recent sample of 166 COVID-19 cases which had whole genome sequencing completed were found to be the Omicron variant, a weekly snapshot of the ACT outbreak report said. “Almost 75 per cent of the total cases reported since the start of the pandemic [have been] notified in week 1 and week 2 of 2022,” the report said. There were 23 people in ACT hospitals for COVID-19 treatment as of 8pm on Tuesday, including three people in intensive care. Two of those patients were being ventilated. Hospitalisations hit a record high on Monday, with 28 patients being cared for. The number of people in hospital had increased nearly fivefold since New Year’s Day, when six people were being cared for, however the number of people in intensive care has so far remained below previous peaks. READ MORE: Modelling prepared for ACT Health had predicted Canberra’s hospitals could have been treating as many as 60 people for COVID-19 this week. The modelling showed a range of between 19 and 60 patients. Mr Barr has previously indicated restrictions in the ACT, which were tightened in response to the Omicron wave, would be relaxed as cases dropped and booster vaccination rates rose. The epidemiological report prepared by ACT Health, released late on Wednesday night, said hospitalisations had increased in line with increasing case numbers in the community. People aged 18 to 44 have are the most likely to have had COVID in the ACT, with there now an average rate of more than 400 cases for every 100,000 people in the cohort. There is an average of fewer than 100 cases for every 100,000 people aged 65 and over in the ACT. The seven-day rolling average of cases fell to 759 on January 9, after a peak of 925 on January 5, but the report warned the daily case number would fluctuate due to delays in test results coming back, the shift to rapid antigen tests and “high movement of people during the holiday period”. The test positivity rate has also increased. The rate was higher than 26 per cent on January 9, and had been about 9 per cent on January 2. Our coverage of the health and safety aspects of this outbreak of COVID-19 in the ACT is free for anyone to access. However, we depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support. You can also sign up for our newsletters for regular updates. Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:

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