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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 April 2021) . . Page.. 811 ..

COVID-19 pandemic response—update

Ministerial statement

MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Families and Community Services and Minister for Health) (10.37): Today I rise to provide the third update of 2021 on the COVID-19 situation in the ACT, and the plans, preparations and actions that the government continues to take to protect the health and wellbeing of Canberrans.

I am pleased to report that, since my last update on 30 March, the ACT is still in a strong position in our response to COVID-19. At the time of my last update, the country was dealing with an unfolding situation in Queensland and northern New South Wales, where local transmission had occurred which was linked to the Brisbane clusters. Thankfully, this situation was resolved with very few community-acquired cases.

I would like to reiterate my thanks to the Canberra community for following the public health directions and advice, which remains so critical to stopping the spread of the virus. As we move ahead with our recovery and new “COVID-normal” restrictions, I want to acknowledge the continued hard work of the frontline staff at our hospitals, testing and vaccination centres and public health teams in helping to keep the community safe.

I appreciate the community’s patience as we progress the COVID-19 vaccination program, which will see more and more ACT residents able to book their vaccination appointment. I acknowledge that this is a challenging and complex program, and there may be frustration in the community due to recent setbacks. However, in conjunction with the commonwealth government, we are moving ahead with this program to protect our community, and I will provide more detail on this in a moment.

Consistent with my last update, over the past several weeks we have seen COVID-19 cases rising in many parts of the world. In some places health systems are under enormous strain, and various levels of lockdown are in place to try to control the spread of the virus. This is indeed a solemn reminder that the pandemic is continuing and is having a significant impact on lives and communities.

Comparatively, in Australia, we are in a fortunate position, with our suppression efforts having been largely successful to date in preventing the wider spread of COVID-19 through our communities. As at 18 April 2021, there have been more than 140 million confirmed cases worldwide, including more than three million deaths reported to the World Health Organisation.

New Zealand’s COVID-19 situation has been relatively stable since my last update in March. However, on 8 April 2021 a new case of COVID-19 was reported in a border worker in Auckland, and there have since been two further linked cases. There have been no travel restrictions implemented in response to this recent case. However, ACT Health will continue to monitor the situation and the advice of the AHPPC, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee.

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