Page 44 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 8 February 2022

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this service evolved into a 24/7 telephone monitoring service which is supported by doctors and nurses, to discuss the management of symptoms and assist those who have concerns about their condition. Establishing the COVID Care@Home service has allowed healthcare professionals to efficiently manage the escalation of patients requiring admission and keep patients at home who may have presented to the emergency department if they were concerned about their condition. In addition, the program has been able to identify any high-risk patients who may benefit from specific treatment, such as a Sotrovimab infusion.

On 10 January Canberra Health Services opened the COVID clinic at Garran surge centre, providing face-to-face health care for people with COVID. This service has been very well received by consumers and reflects Canberra Health Services’ innovative approach. The number of patients requiring ICU care for COVID-19 has remained well within capacity and, indeed, below the modelled projections. The peak of hospitalisations in the mid-70s was also within the system’s capacity. All of this means that the ACT has managed this outbreak with minimal disruptions to other health services.

The Chief Health Officer has provided me with her 21st, 22nd and 23rd reports on the status of the public health emergency due to COVID-19, which I will table. These reports outline the actions taken by the Chief Health Officer and ACT Health’s COVID-19 response in the 30 days to 7 December 2021, 6 January 2022 and 5 February 2022.

The Chief Health Officer is of the view that it remains necessary to maintain effective test, trace, isolate and quarantine measures and public health social measures to mitigate the risk of widespread transmission of the Omicron variant in the ACT and protect vulnerable Canberrans. While case numbers have been declining, we are still in an uncertain period, with increasing movement in the community after the summer break. There remain a high number of high-risk sites impacted by COVID-19, and the seven-day incidence rate of COVID-19 indicates that the ACT is still experiencing high community transmission of the Omicron variant.

The Chief Health Officer is therefore recommending that the public health emergency declaration be extended for a further period of 90 days to May 2022, noting that there will continue to be a review of the ACT’s situation every 30 days, with a report provided to me. This recommendation is consistent with that of other Australian jurisdictions, including the commonwealth, which are maintaining emergency status or similar at this time and focusing on suppression for the purpose of minimising transmission in high-risk settings and among vulnerable population cohorts. Yesterday I signed the extension of the public health emergency declaration, in line with the Chief Health Officer’s advice.

The ACT continues to be well placed in our response to COVID-19, and the government is focused on supporting our community as we live with COVID. I want to thank Canberrans for their continued efforts in adhering to the public health advice and keeping Canberra safe and strong.

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