Canberra concedes Covid zero return unlikely

Courtney GouldNCA NewsWire
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Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: News Corp Australia

The ACT has pleaded with the government to allocate more vaccines to the territory’s mass vaccination clinics as it concedes a return to Covid zero is unlikely.

Canberra recorded 16 locally acquired cases on Tuesday, bringing the outbreak total to 641.

Just three cases were in isolation for the entirety of their infectious period and at least 11 spent some time in the community while contagious.

Nine cases have been linked to existing cases or transmission sites while the rest remain under investigation.

Ten people are receiving treatment in hospital and two individuals are in intensive care requiring ventilation.

Chief health officer Kerryn Coleman conceded it was unlikely the state would return to Covid zero and focus was now on slowing transmission.

“I think we are accepting that we are unlikely to get back to zero at this stage,” she said.

Camera IconThe lockdown in the ACT continues as the cases rise back up to double digits. Newswire/Gary Ramage Credit: News Corp Australia

Dr Coleman said 31 per cent of Canberra’s cases had been recorded in people under the age of 18.

“In particular, those under 12 make up 17 per cent of all cases in the ACT. Another 8 per cent are aged between 12 and 15. And then 5 per cent is between 16 and 18 years of age,” she said.

In total, health authorities have been unable to link 77 cases to other known sources.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr urged the government to allocate more Pfizer doses to the territory-run vaccination clinics, which he described as more efficient.

“In larger, more decentralised jurisdictions, the GP and pharmacy model really has benefits because we cannot have a mass vaccination hub in small communities but we are a city state,” he told reporters.

“Ultimately, we just want more vaccines so we can vaccinate people more quickly. That's the pathway out of our current public health restrictions.”

Camera IconBusiness still have no further detail on when the ACT could open up. Newswire/Gary Ramage Credit: News Corp Australia

It comes as the chief minister unveiled millions of dollars in additional funding for mental health support.

Mental health, alcohol and other drug services are set to be supported by the $14m fund.

“It's okay to not be okay at the moment and support is available,” Mr Barr said.

The federal government will contribute $2.5m to support a Head to Health pop-up mental health clinic in the ACT.

Originally published as Canberra concedes Covid zero return unlikely

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