Page 504 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 23 March 2022

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MS CASTLEY: Minister, have you lost control of ACT Health?


ACT Health—COVID-19 data

MS CASTLEY: Madam Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Health. Today’s shocking revelations in the Canberra Times about Canberrans being kept in the dark about vital health information show the culture of secrecy that contaminates your government. It is a story and editorial that lifts the lid on how your government holds the Canberra community in contempt by keeping facts secret: COVID information they deserve to know; revelations that officials are withholding health data not just from the community but from you; and your lack of leadership to stand up for Canberrans and ensure that this information is made public. Why, time and again, is your government denying Canberrans their right to know?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Ms Castley for her editorial commentary in relation to the Canberra Times article. I might just put on record exactly what was provided in the media response that is the subject of that freedom of information request. The office provided the following information to the media:

In 2022 the number of COVID deaths remained relatively small, with a total of 11. Approximately half of those who died with COVID were fully vaccinated, with two or more doses, and half were unvaccinated, not fully vaccinated or vaccination status is unknown. ACT Health does not routinely collect comorbidity data for COVID-19 positive cases for reporting purposes. However, it is important to note that there are often several complexities associated with the cause of death for an individual, including possible underlying health conditions. Of those who have died in 2022, a number were already undergoing palliative care at the time of their death.

A key message from experts remains that vaccination significantly reduces the risk of illness for the majority of people. We will continue to encourage anyone who is eligible to get vaccinated. Where possible, clinical staff ask patients about their vaccination status on arrival in a health facility and record details. Currently, the data does not distinguish between those who have had two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and those who have had three. Both groups are included in the category of fully vaccinated.

There are 25 ICU patients from 1 January 2022 to 30 January 2022, nine fully vaccinated, six not vaccinated, one vaccinated with one dose, nine vaccination status unknown.

All of that information was in fact provided to the media and the conversation was about how much information we provide, how we provide it and how we describe it accurately to ensure that we are providing information to Canberrans but not misleading them with that information.

MS CASTLEY: How can Canberrans trust you and your government when you keep them in the dark about vital COVID information that they have a right to know?

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