ACT ditches COVID close-contact isolation

·3-min read

Household COVID-19 contact quarantine rules have been ditched in the ACT, as a leading epidemiologist warns Australia could rue further relaxing restrictions.

The seven-day mandatory isolation for close contacts was scrapped in NSW and Victoria last week, with the nation's capital following suit on Tuesday.

Queensland's quarantine requirements will be eased for asymptomatic close contacts from 6pm on Thursday and South Australia will from Saturday drop the need to isolate unless showing symptoms.

Despite cases stabilising or falling across the country, University of Melbourne epidemiologist Nancy Baxter said the positivity rate for PCR tests remains high at about one third.

She believes now is not the time to ease restrictions, suggesting it would be safer to do so in a few weeks to shorten the tail of the current Omicron wave.

"COVID is not going away," Professor Baxter told ABC TV on Tuesday.

"Right now we are in the denial phase of the pandemic where we want to live like we did before.

"Over the next two years what we're going to find is if we actually want to live well, we do have to adapt to the virus and do things a bit differently."

School resumes for most NSW students on Wednesday, when the week-long compulsory isolation for close contacts of pupils and teachers will also be ditched.

NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said last week the move would help prevent disruption in teaching and learning.

Teachers and students will be required to inform their schools of their close contact status, take a rapid antigen test daily and wear a mask indoors, with the exception of primary school students for whom masks are only a strong recommendation.

If a school-wide outbreak is detected then large indoor gatherings will be put on hold, visitors will be limited and there could be a shift back to learning from home.

Meanwhile, a dozen people contracted COVID-19 on one of the first cruise ships allowed back into Western Australia since the pandemic began.

Ten passengers and two crew tested positive aboard the Coral Discoverer, which arrived in Broome early on Monday after a 10-day voyage from Darwin.

A spokesman for the ship's operator, Coral Expeditions, said all guests and passengers were triple-vaccinated in line with WA requirements.

The positive guests and their close contacts had isolated and some had been transported to designated hotels in Broome to finish their isolation periods.


NSW: 9849 cases, 18 deaths, 1695 in hospital, 67 in ICU

Victoria: 9265 cases, 15 deaths, 455 in hospital, 33 in ICU

Queensland: 5142 cases, one death, 484 in hospital, 13 in ICU

Tasmania: 958 cases, one death, 38 in hospital, one in ICU

Western Australia: 6711 cases, eight deaths, 249 in hospital, 11 in ICU

South Australia: 3463 cases, seven deaths, 254 in hospital, 10 in ICU

Northern Territory: 362 cases, 46 in hospital, one in ICU

ACT: 831 cases, 69 in hospital, five in ICU.

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