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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 9 February 2021) . . Page.. 284 ..

Madam Speaker, we all know that COVID-19 had a major impact on our community and our health system in 2020. I am pleased to advise that progress is continuing, following the ACT government’s significant investment in public health services that were affected by COVID-19 restrictions and the suspension of many category 2 and 3 elective surgeries. On 30 June 2020 the territory had 1,505 patients overdue and awaiting surgery. By 31 January 2021 only 254 of those patients remain.

I am also pleased to advise that the ACT hospital system is on track to undertake a record number of elective surgeries in 2020-21. In addition, I am pleased to advise that the recovery plan has offered more than 1,600 long wait dental patients an appointment through the program, delivering those appointments to those most in need, children and vulnerable community groups. I would like to thank all those who are continuing to work together in delivering this important initiative, assisting to fast-track the recovery of the public health system.

We are currently at stage 4 easing of restrictions. The impact of easing restrictions is being closely monitored to inform future decisions, and a further COVID-safe checkpoint is scheduled for 12 February 2021. I am pleased to advise members that, as of 4 February, 6,050 venues are registered with the Check In CBR app and there have been nearly 315,000 downloads of the app since its launch in September.

The public health emergency declaration remains in force in the ACT until 17 February 2021. The Chief Health Officer is keeping me informed on the status of the COVID-19 emergency and the ACT’s public health situation. In the coming days the Chief Health Officer will provide further advice about the public health emergency declaration, which, in light of the current situation, appears likely to be extended for a further period of 90 days to enable essential public health emergency directions to remain in place. I will table the Chief Health Officer’s reports provided to me for the previous two months—December 2020 and January 2021.

The public health emergency declaration enables the Chief Health Officer to continue to take the necessary actions to reduce threats to public health, including issuing public health directions that aim to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community. These directions include the requirement for returned travellers to undertake hotel quarantine and for confirmed cases of COVID-19 to self-isolate. We expect quarantine to remain a requirement for returning international travellers for some time to come.

While the situation in Australia has stabilised, AHPPC advises that it is likely that we will continue to see COVID-19 outbreaks until vaccines have been rolled out to a large proportion of the community, which will take some months to achieve. We are doing well and should be proud of our efforts, but the pandemic is not over and we must remain vigilant.

Madam Speaker, the past two months have been challenging for Canberrans, with the re-emergence of COVID-19 in nearby states, particularly where travel and leave plans, and plans to spend time with loved ones, have been impacted. I am proud of how Canberrans have responded to this challenge, despite these difficulties, and

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