ACT registers 252 new cases of COVID-19 as exposure site classifications change

The ACT has registered 252 new cases of COVID-19, the highest daily tally to date, amid calls for patience in queues at testing facilities.

There are currently three people hospitalized with the virus, none of whom are in intensive care.

The number of tests in the territory remains high, with 2,980 negative tests returned yesterday.

In an effort to ease the pressure caused by the increased demand for COVID-19 testing, the Nicholls testing center has been reopened.

“Today we added the Nicholls test center which was not supposed to be open, and the team did a great job getting it back in place today,” ACT Health Minister Rachel said. Stephen-Smith.

“Yesterday they did over 4,500 tests, so considering the shutdown of some of the Holt and Nicholls sites yesterday, that was a really good job.”

Changes to the classification of exhibition venues

Some sites previously classified as casual contact locations will now be considered “symptom watch” locations.(ABC News: Toby Hunt)

In light of the increase in COVID-19 cases in Canberra, ACT Health has announced that many places previously considered casual contact sites will be reclassified as “symptom watch” sites.

Health officials said the reclassification was aimed at identifying where the highest risk of exposure was.

“In response to the increased presence of COVID-19 in our community, and in accordance with national guidelines, ACT Health is continually adjusting the public health response to focus on identifying those most at risk of exposure and those at greatest risk of exposure. more likely to develop serious illness, ”ACT Health said in a statement.

“ACT Health reviewed the risk assessment process for exposure locations to refocus on locations that pose the highest risk of transmission to high-risk settings and priority populations.

ACT Health said people who attended monitoring for symptom locations should always remain vigilant and get tested immediately if symptoms appear.

The changes do not affect people considered casual contacts due to interaction with a confirmed case of COVID-19, who will still need to be tested and isolated until they test negative.

ACT’s check-in app, Check In CBR, has also been updated in line with new protocols, with the latest update better alerting people if they’ve been to an affected site.

“With these changes and the push notifications used, SMS text messages will no longer be sent to people who have visited exhibition sites identified by Check In CBR. “

ACT Health also reminded Canberrans that regardless of their type of exposure or symptoms, if they are waiting for a COVID-19 test result, they must remain isolated.

Police called for “incidents” in test queues

An aerial image of a test site with a queue winding around several streets.
Test sites around the capital have seen wait times increase dramatically, leading to calls from the police to resolve issues resulting from the frustration.(ABC News: Toby Hunt)

As demand for testing increases due to a higher number of confirmed cases as well as interstate travel requirements, ACT Policing said long lines at testing facilities have led to a number police calls to resolve incidents.

While waiting in line for hours is understandably unpleasant, the ACT police call on the Canberrans to be courteous to each other and to the staff at the test center.

Hopefully Nicholls Testing Center “takes the pressure off”

ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith.
ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said staffing during the vacation period is the biggest constraint on opening more testing clinics.(ABC News: Greg Nelson)

Travel testing requirements saw the Garran and Mitchell testing sites closed between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. to those who have not been identified as close or occasional contacts, or to those not showing symptoms of the virus.

In an effort to further reduce wait times for those who need urgent testing, ACT Health has reopened the Nicholls testing center, which was scheduled to be closed today from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Ms Stephen-Smith told ABC Radio Canberra that the site is run by staff found through ACT Health partners instead of the usual Capital Pathology.

She said the possibility of opening more testing sites was hampered by a lack of staff, many of whom she said were on leave or had already worked overtime.

“So it’s not the physical capacity that is our constraint, we were able to organize pop-ups in physical spaces throughout the month of August, but it is this staffing that is the constraint to which we’re facing right now. “

Ms Stephen-Smith said she was optimistic that reopening the Nicholls Center would help ease pressure on the territory’s testing facilities.

“What we have seen before on the Nicholls site is that they are capable of doing over 1000 tests and depending on the period of operation, sometimes 1200 to 1500 tests through this test center. Nicholls. “

Demand increases just days after a large testing center closes

A drone image of cars lining up for COVID-19 testing in Canberra
The EPIC COVID-19 test center in Canberra at the start of containment in August.(ABC News: Toby Hunt)

One of the largest testing facilities at Canberra Exhibition Center (EPIC) closed on December 17 to allow events to be held at the exhibition center once again.

Almost two years after the start of COVID-19 testing at EPIC, the ACT government announced the closure of the drive-thru facility, replaced by a new drive-thru clinic at 2 Tooth Street in Mitchell.

The government said its decision to shut down testing at EPIC was so that the site could once again host events, including the annual Summernats auto festival in early 2022.

Nearly 250,000 tests have been carried out at the EPIC test site since it was put into service in March 2020.

Loading form …