A woman aged in her 20s has become Canberra’s fifth confirmed case of COVID-19 in three days.
The woman is a close contact of the earlier cases and, like them, lives in the Gungahlin region.
The latest ACT outbreak began when two of the five newly infected people returned to Canberra last week from one of Melbourne’s “hot spots”.
The three other cases are linked to this pair, and at least one of them is a member of the same household.
Coronavirus live news: Follow all the latest information in our blog.
ACT Health said the latest person to be infected had visited Westfield Belconnen on Monday, July 6, between 12:00pm and 12:30pm the same time one of the earlier cases visited the site.
All five affected people are now isolating themselves. None have been hospitalised.
ACT Chief Health Officer Kerryn Coleman said the risk to the broader Canberra community remained very low.
“I want to be clear there is a very low risk of transmission from exposure to this individual and her household contacts at Westfield Belconnen, due to the short period of time they attended the location and the fact they didn’t come into close contact with anyone else during this period,” Dr Coleman said.
“We inform the public of locations where people with COVID-19 have been during their infectious period when our contact tracing cannot capture everyone we know was in the same place at the same time, and there is some risk however low to the public or staff of exposure to the virus.”
The ACT has now recorded 113 cases of the respiratory disease, which has killed three Canberrans.
Government expands ACT testing sites
Meanwhile, three new free testing sites will be opened in Canberra in response to a surge in demand for coronavirus checks.
One of the new clinics will be the “pop-up” coronavirus field hospital on Garran Oval, which has lain dormant since it was opened in May.
The 51-bed emergency hospital was commissioned shortly after the pandemic first spread to Australia, when health authorities feared the outbreak would overwhelm the country’s health system.
The temporary field hospital at Garran will open for COVID-19 testing on Saturday.(Supplied: Canberra Health Service)
ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said more than 1,200 people were tested yesterday at the drive-through clinics at Weston Creek and Exhibition Park.
Where to get tested:
- Cracebook online or call 6109 0000, [email protected], 1/5 Baratta St, 1:00pm-5:00pm, Monday to Friday
- Exhibition Park drive-through, Flemington Rd and Northbourne Ave, 9:30am-5:00pm daily (drivers or passengers only, no children under eight)
- Garran Oval (open from Saturday, July 11) Kitchener St, 9:30am-5pm daily
- Narrabundah Winnunga Nimmityjah, 63 Boolimba Cres, 9:30am-4:30pm, Monday to Friday
- Tuggeranongbook online or call 6185 1986, Lakeview Medical Practice, 1/216 Cowlishaw St, 9:00am-1:00pm and 2:00pm-6:00pm, Monday to Friday
- West Belconnen (open from Monday, July 13) 6 Luke St, Holt, 9:30am-5pm, Monday to Friday
- Weston Creek 24 Parkinson St, 7:30am-10:00pm daily (for children under two, call 5124 8080 before visiting)
“With the events occurring in Victoria and the onset of the influenza season, we will continue to see an upward trend in demand for community testing of COVID-19,” she said.
“We know this increase in testing has led to lengthy wait times and we thank everyone for their patience.
“These additional clinics will help to meet the increase in demand and give Canberrans more options for testing, closer to their homes.”
The other testing sites include the West Belconnen Child and Family Centre, in the suburb of Holt, and another drive-through clinic at a location yet to be decided.
Despite the expanding capacity, Ms Stephen-Smith urged Canberrans not to turn up for testing unless they were eligible.
The clinics are only testing people who have flu-like symptoms or who have been instructed by a health official to get tested.
Ms Stephen-Smith said she understood that people were anxious given the recent infections.
“Our priority must be on testing people who have symptoms of COVID-19, and doing this as quickly as possible,” she said.
“We know Canberrans are concerned about the return of the virus to the ACT. We have every confidence that the ACT is in a very good position to respond should we see an increase of cases.”
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