ACT health authorities on high-alert for “second” wave of coronavirus cases | The Canberra Times


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ACT health authorities are on high alert for new COVID-19 cases to emerge once physical distancing restrictions are eased across the country. While chief health officer Kerryn Coleman says the territory may soon be in a position where there are no “active” cases of coronavirus with its borders, she insists that doesn’t mean the ACT has successfully overcome the pandemic. The ACT recorded just one new case of COVID-19 on Monday, the first new infection to be diagnosed in the past seven days. The new case was a man in his 40s who contracted the virus overseas. There have been 104 cases of coronavirus recorded in the ACT since March 12, but only 10 of those are still “active”. One person is being treated in hospital. Asked on Monday if it was possible that the virus could be eradicated in the ACT, Dr Coleman said: “I’m hoping so”. Dr Coleman said the focus in the coming weeks was to build up the ACT’s testing and contact tracing capacity to the point where authorities could be confident they could quickly pounce on any new transmissions. She said the prospect of new cases emerging locally would increase once social distancing requirements were relaxed in other parts of the country. The rolling back of restrictions could start as soon as next month, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s national cabinet set to review the current measures in just over three weeks time. READ MORE: “Clearly, when and if we start relaxing some of our social distancing measures, and start seeing further movements … we will see our risk re-raise,” Dr Coleman said. Chief Minister Andrew Barr warned that even if the virus was effectively eradicated in the ACT in the coming weeks, the disease would still be active in other parts of the country – meaning there remained a risk of new transmissions locally. He added that even when there were no traces of COVID-19 in Australia, it would still be “circulating” in other parts of the world. “All it takes is for one person to begin another chain of infection that could potentially lead to a much larger outbreak here, or anywhere else in the country,” he said. Mr Barr was aware that frustration could start to be build in the Canberra community if restrictions remained in place, despite there being no trace of the virus in the nation’s capital. He said that any “early move out” of the restrictions would heighten the risk of exposing the ACT to a “second, third, fourth or fifth” wave of the pandemic. “Past history shows that pandemics come in waves and the history of the Spanish Flu, a century ago, was that the second wave was significantly larger than the first and far more deadly,” he said. Our COVID-19 news articles relating to public health and safety are free for anyone to access. However, we depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support. If you’re looking to stay up to date on COVID-19, you can also sign up for our twice-daily digest here

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