Three Canberra residents from the same household have tested positive for coronavirus, a month after the last known positive case in the territory, ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr has confirmed.
- The infections of the three people — a woman and two men, all in their 20s — are linked to the Victorian outbreak
- Chief Minister Andrew Barr says the easing of social-distancing restrictions planned for Friday is now likely to be postponed
- The trio visited the Fyshwick Markets on Saturday and Westfield Belconnen on Monday before testing positive
All three cases are linked to the outbreak in Victoria, where more than 100 new cases were recorded today.
Mr Barr said the three people — one woman and two men, all aged in their 20s — had been self-isolating since they first began displaying symptoms of the virus.
The ACT has recorded 111 known cases of COVID-19 to date, including three people who have died.
Prior to the announcement today, a foreign diplomat who became infected while overseas had been the last confirmed case, recorded on June 6.
New cases pose low risk to wider public: ACT Health
Two of the newly confirmed cases arrived in the ACT from a Melbourne hotspot on Thursday last week, while the other was infected in the household, ACT Health said.
The Chief Minister said all three people “did the right thing” and got tested as soon as they showed symptoms.
Chief Health Officer Kerryn Coleman said the trio visited two public places in Canberra before testing positive — Fyshwick Markets on Saturday, July 4 between 3:00pm-4:00pm and Westfield Belconnen on Monday, July 6, between 12:00pm-12:30pm.
She said all three people were tested promptly and ACT Health was given “a lot of information” about their behaviour since they returned to Canberra.
Plans to ease restrictions ‘likely’ to be postponed
Mr Barr said it was now unlikely that the planned easing of social-distancing restrictions, which were scheduled to take effect this Friday, would go ahead.
“Given the news today, that we have new cases in the ACT, the community should expect that the implementation of stage three [restrictions] is likely to be postponed, until we have a better understanding of the Victorian outbreak and the impact on the ACT,” he said.
Mr Barr acknowledged that today’s announcement was “hard news” for Canberrans and could cause uncertainty for businesses.
Ticket sales for Saturday’s Raiders game against the Storm and Canberra Stadium have already been paused.
Stadium management said they were seeking clarification from ACT Health on a possible halt to the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, which would have allowed them to have the stands at 25 per cent capacity.
So far under 1,500 tickets have been sold to members.
New cases were only a matter of time: Barr
Health officials have said repeatedly that new cases were “highly likely” as the ACT continued to work to suppress the virus.
“We continue to watch what is happening in Melbourne and the return to lockdown measures that the Victorian Government has announced,” Mr Barr said.
“We know that’s going to be incredibly difficult for millions of Melburnians and certainly no one wants that to occur in Canberra.
“The virus is not eliminated in Australia and it’s certainly not eliminated around the world.”
He said everyone needed to continue to be vigilant when it came to social distancing.
“And that’s why we’re asking all Canberrans and any visitors, anyone who has been in Victoria in recent days and weeks, to be careful — incredibly careful,” Mr Barr said.
Victorians barred from entering ACT
The ACT closed its border to Victorians at 12:01am today, in line with New South Wales, and anyone travelling from Victoria to Canberra will now be denied entry unless they are granted an exemption.
Mr Barr said ACT residents currently in Victoria would be able to return home, but must notify ACT Health and self-isolate for 14 days upon entering Canberra.
Exemptions are possible, including for work, if a person’s job is considered an essential service, or for those requiring urgent medical care.
Significant delays are expected for those trying to cross the NSW-Victorian border for the next few days, as paperwork is checked.
“We have responded incredibly well to COVID-19 so far and are in a good position,” ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said earlier this week.