Labor ACT Senator Katy Gallagher, who chairs parliament’s COVID committee, has revealed her daughter is one of the latest Australians to have contracted the coronavirus.
“My gorgeous daughter Evie has tested positive for COVID-19,” the senator announced on Twitter late on Tuesday night.
“She is at home with us but is feeling pretty unwell and understandably worried about what this means for her and for the rest of her family.
“Our household remains in strict quarantine until ACT Health advises us that we don’t need to isolate anymore.”
Senator Gallagher said she had returned a negative test result, adding she was “lucky” as she is fully vaccinated.
“Unfortunately too many Australians have not had that opportunity,” she said.
“My focus right now is on my little girl and getting her through this – but these events bring a sharp personal focus to the consequences of our government’s failure to ensure a prompt, efficient national rollout of vaccines.”
This morning we were advised that my gorgeous daughter Evie has tested positive for COVID-19. One of Canberra’s 17 positive cases today.
— Katy Gallagher (@SenKatyG) August 17, 2021
Senator Gallagher’s daughter was one of 494 new Australian cases on Tuesday. That included 17 new cases in the ACT.
- Click here to see the full list of ACT exposure sites
Government figures show 7097 children and teens have contracted the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, and there are growing concerns for children – further heightened this week when 15-year-old Osama Sudah died in Sydney after contracting COVID-19 and also having meningitis.
In Victoria, health authorities are worried about the spread of the virus outdoors between children amid a surge in cases involving school students under the age of 10.
The Jacana skate park was added as an exposure site late on Tuesday night.
It follows a controversial move to close playgrounds to prevent the spread, a decision the government said was also related to parents mingling without masks.
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said on Tuesday that his team was investigating a potential case of playground transmission and a “more definitive” spread between students who walked home together.
Fifty of that state’s 227 active cases involve children under 10 and another 38 are teenagers.
Health authorities are also worried about the number of mystery cases.
The state recorded 24 new locally acquired coronavirus cases on Tuesday, with 10 potentially infectious while in the community.
The health department is asking anyone who lives or spends time in Glen Eira and Port Phillip local government areas to get tested if they have been to exposure sites, have any symptoms or “even if they are unsure”.
Five mystery cases in the beachside suburb of St Kilda are worrying Professor Sutton.
“We want to see more tests right across the area because it’s becoming a real concern for us,” he said in Tuesday night’s coronavirus update.
“We need more tests to track down unidentified chains of transmission and protect the whole local community.”
There are now more than 510 exposure sites, with over 50 sites stretching from South Melbourne to Brighton.
New sites include a 7-11, bus routes, a skate park and a McDonalds.
- Click here for the full list of Victorian exposure sites
In New South Wales, two more schools in Sydney’s west and south-west – Kings Langley Public School and Mount Lewis Infants School –were closed on Tuesday after cases were linked to those campuses.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that 70 per cent of NSW cases were spread in homes.
New exposure sites in that state include the News at the Mall shop in Dubbo.
- Click here to see the full list of NSW exposure sites
NSW reported 452 new local COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, and the death of a woman in her 70s.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned the case numbers would get worse and that September and October would be “our most difficult months”.
As well as threatening the lives of those with COVID-19, the current outbreak is making it difficult for other patients to get the treatment they need.
“There is no question that the hospital system is under enormous pressure across NSW,” the state’s health minister Brad Hazzard acknowledged on Tuesday.
But he insisted that overall the system was “still extraordinarily good”.
In recent days, four cancer patients, a nurse manager and a junior doctor have tested positive for the virus at southern Sydney’s St George Hospital. Twenty-one patients are isolating, as are 80 health workers.
Mr Hazzard said the case was “fairly indicative” of the way COVID-19 is affecting hospital staff.
“Unfortunately all our health staff are finding they’re on the receiving end of having to be taken offline because they’re potentially exposed,” he said.
He asked the community to be tolerant and understand that health staff were working hard, “but we’re in a pandemic and people will have to be taken offline and we will have to have some inconvenience”.
Long delays at Westmead Hospital’s ambulance bay on Monday night forced paramedics to do paperwork in the carpark, decked out in full protective gear, their union says.
The Australian Paramedics Association (NSW) says one patient had to be X-rayed while stuck in the ambulance bay, where up to 13 vehicles were waiting for hours.
The ambulances were mainly transferring COVID-19 patients to the hospital.
NT ‘not out of the woods’
Northern Territory authorities are expected to learn if a COVID-19 infected US man who travelled from Sydney to the Top End has spread the virus to others.
Contact tracers have so far identified 99 close and about 300 casual contacts after the man in his 30s flew via Canberra to Darwin on Thursday.
He spent three days in Darwin and drove 300km south to Katherine on Sunday for work before a COVID-19 test revealed he was infected.
No new cases had been identified as of early Wednesday morning.
Chief Minister Michael Gunner warned the public that many of the close contacts’ test results were pending and it was too early to relax.
“We are not out of the woods. We are now in a waiting game,” he said on Tuesday.
“We are not going to have a better picture of how we are going until late tonight at the earliest, but more likely tomorrow (Wednesday) morning.”
- Click here for the full list of NT exposure sites