News Coronavirus Second mystery infection as ACT cluster grows

Second mystery infection as ACT cluster grows

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The COVID outbreak in the national capital has grown to six cases, including another mystery case.

All students, staff and visitors who were at the Gold Creek High School from Monday-Wednesday this week are being treated as close contacts after a 14-year-old student tested positive for the virus.

ACT chief health officer Kerryn Coleman said the student was not linked to the other five cases in the territory.

A total of 1862 close contacts have so far been associated with the outbreak – which started with Canberra’s first positive virus infection in 105 days on Thursday. He is a man in his 20s from the northern suburb of Gungahlin, and three of his close contacts are have also been confirmed with the virus.

There are another 200 casual contacts, and ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr expects that number to grow.

Cases are also expected to increase further, but health authorities hope a lockdown until next Thursday will let them contain community spread.

Canberra COVID testing sites have been overwhelmed by demand since the outbreak emerged. There have been reports of people waiting up to eight hours for testing, only to be turned away.

Mr Barr said capacity was being expanded, and urged anyone who had not been identified as a close contact to wait.

“We understand that there will be many people who are anxious and want to get the peace of mind of a negative test result but the priority right now is to test the close contacts and anyone who has symptoms,” he said.

“Yesterday was our all-time record number of tests. We expect today will be even busier and we have stood additional testing capacity.

“If you do not have symptoms and you are not an identified close contact, you do not need to be tested today. Please, stay at home.”

Concerns about NSW’s virus leakage will be raised by chief ministers and premiers during national cabinet on Friday.

Mr Barr earlier pointed to “mixed messages” from NSW about when and how quickly it would move to relax restrictions.

“What’s been expressed inside the national cabinet room is not that they would get to 50 per cent vaccination and then just do a free-for-all, but that they may be able to adjust some of the perimeters of their lockdown,” he told ABC radio.

“It would be insane for them to just open up and have no public health directions but that is not my understanding of their position.”

NSW and the ACT have effectively shut their borders to each other.

But there are limited exemptions for border communities who need to go in and out of Canberra for essential work or to access healthcare.

“Looking at what NSW put out late last night, it seems that you have to declare that you had been in the ACT but you would be allowed to travel for essential reasons,” Mr Barr said.

He conceded it was confusing for residents of towns bordering the territory and wanted NSW to provide more clarity.

“What I’m hearing is that ACT people have a very clear understanding of our rules and that NSW residents coming into the ACT have a very clear understanding of the ACT position, but that NSW could benefit from clarifying things a little,” he said.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the situation for communities near the ACT was evolving.

“People are concerned about various movements that have occurred overnight from the ACT to parts of our south coast,” she said as NSW recorded 390 new locally acquired cases.

“If we need to do anything as a pre-emptive move, we will.”

Federal support is being extended to ACT businesses and residents who have lost work.

Meanwhile, a 20-year-old Canberra man has been charged with offences including breaching lockdown orders and assaulting police after being pulled over on Thursday night.

-with AAP