MP COVID plans could alter ACT travel rule

·2-min read

Plans allowing federal MPs to travel from COVID hotspots to attend parliament in Canberra could be used as a trial for other workers entering the ACT.

Politicians travelling to Canberra for parliamentary sittings later this month will be able to avoid two weeks' quarantine if they are fully vaccinated, regardless of where they arrive from.

Those who are not fully vaccinated will be under a 14-day stay-at-home order.

ACT Chief Health Officer Kerryn Coleman said post-lockdown travel plans from virus-affected areas were being finalised with the MP model a part of considerations.

"We are looking to how to manage travel going forward when there is a higher risk of COVID being introduced from local government areas," she said.

"There is still a bit of work to be done with that."

Dr Coleman said vaccine status would become more important for travel allowances from interstate at the end of the month.

The ACT recorded 40 new COVID cases on Friday.

Of the new cases, 21 have been linked to known cases while 19 are still under investigation.

There were 10 cases infectious while in the community, with nine in quarantine during their contagious period.

Health authorities confirmed there were no new cases linked to the Centenary Hospital special care nursery outbreak which has infected five people.

The nursery outbreak includes two babies,with both being transferred to a paediatric ward.

Five babies have been identified as close contacts and are in quarantine.

Investigations are continuing into the source of the outbreak, but a hospital worker who has tested positive was directly caring for one of the babies who later developed symptoms.

The hospital worker was fully vaccinated.

There are now 16 COVID patients in ACT hospitals, with six of them in intensive care and five on ventilators.

The ACT's lockdown is set to end on October 15, with restrictions to be eased further from October 29.

While Canberra leads the nation for first doses, ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith urged Indigenous people to get vaccinated.

While almost 97 per cent of the eligible population in Canberra have received their first dose, that figure is only at 74 per cent for the Indigenous population.

"We're putting a lot of effort into really ramping up very specific cultural appropriate messages but also access to vaccination for that community," Ms Stephen-Smith said.

She said work was being undertaken with Indigenous community health organisations to encourage greater vaccine uptake.

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