ACT to make changes to contact tracing as testing sites ‘significantly strained’ | The Canberra Times

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ACT health authorities will look to alter the territory’s contact tracing regime and rules for casual contacts as a spike in cases will start to overwhelm contact tracers. Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said if there was a sustained increase in cases that contact tracers would not be able to undertake detailed interviews with each positive case. The new arrangements are being finalised by officials, and Ms Stephen-Smith said she was briefed on the changes by chief health officer Kerryn Coleman on Wednesday morning. “If we start to see too many cases on a daily basis, they’re not going to be able to undertake a detailed case interview with every single one of those people that goes for hours at a time in a way that they have been doing,” she said. “We are going to have to change the way that we do that.” It came as a high proportion of the 58 cases reported on Wednesday were acquired in the ACT. In recent weeks a number of cases were acquired interstate. Ms Stephen-Smith said the ACT would likely continue publishing casual contact exposure sites, however, authorities would not follow up with people. “It’s useful for individuals to understand if they’ve been in a casual contact location so that they can take that information and go and get tested and do the right thing,” she said. “What we probably won’t be doing is asking people to complete declaration forms and following them up proactively to see whether they get tested or not. “It will be a bit more responsibility on the individual to follow some guidance around that.” It came after Prime Minister Scott Morrison said national cabinet agreed to have a consistent definition of casual contacts across the country. Under current ACT rules, a person must get a test and isolate until they receive a negative result if they have been at a casual exposure site. READ MORE: If they are identified as a casual contact less than six days after their exposure they must also get a second test on the sixth day, however, they do not need to isolate. The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee will discuss the changes to casual contacts over the next fortnight. Casual exposure sites in Canberra have jumped over the past week, and testing centres have been inundated. State Emergency Service crews were forced to come in on Wednesday to deal with the demand. 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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