Canberra is expecting a rise in coronavirus cases after an outbreak grew to four with Australia’s capital in lockdown.
Three new infections reported on Thursday evening were all close contacts of a man who was in the community with the virus for four days.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr expects numbers to grow after bringing in a seven-day lockdown.
“I hope that these immediate and significant measures prevent us from going down the path that we’ve seen so tragically unfold 300km up the road,” he told ABC radio on Friday.
“The issue for us now really will be can we ensure that as our testing and contact tracing goes forward, that we can keep the new cases in isolation and out of the community.
“Having a lockdown buys us some time.”
Both houses of parliament were already due to rise on Thursday evening, with some MPs leaving Canberra in a hurry as the lockdown began.
The next sitting fortnight is scheduled for August 23, so many politicians have chosen to stay put.
The exact circumstances of how the ACT’s first case since July 2020 became infected remains unclear.
But health authorities believe the case of a man in his 20s from the northern suburb of Gungahlin is linked to Sydney’s spiralling outbreak.
Concerns about NSW’s virus leakage will be raised by chief ministers and premiers during national cabinet on Friday.
Mr Barr doesn’t believe getting 70 per cent of Australia’s eligible population vaccinated will automatically mean an end to lockdowns and border closures.
“It’s very clear in the national cabinet position, and this is clearly the view of the majority of states and territories, that once we reach that 70 per cent vaccination level, there is a gentle step forward,” he said.
“But it is a gentle step forward, it is not a free-for-all at that point.”
Disaster support payments of up to $750 a week have been extended to people who have lost work in Canberra.
Residents in communities bordering the ACT can enter without an exemption for essential work or to receive health care.
The ACT is shut off from most of the country and NSW is imposing stay-at-home orders for anyone who has been in Canberra since August 5.