ACT 'still strong' despite school cluster

·2-min read

The ACT is still on track to ease some of its last remaining COVID-19 restrictions despite a growing cluster in Canberra schools, the territory's health minister says.

The ACT's cabinet is expected to meet early next week to decide whether to bring forward the easing of restrictions from November 26.

Rachel Stephen-Smith said despite an uptick in cases linked to Canberra schools, the ACT was still heading in the right direction in its COVID-19 roadmap.

"Although case numbers have gone up, we are still in a strong position," Ms Stephen-Smith told ABC Radio on Thursday.

"We have said all along that we would continue to monitor the situation, and while we're taking a gradual pathway out of lockdown, we said we would consider bringing it forward."

The easing of restrictions would see household gathering limits scrapped and face masks only used in high-risk indoor settings, along with reducing density limits.

It comes as four schools in Canberra's south have been identified as COVID-19 exposure sites.

Health authorities announced there was a cluster of 17 cases linked to a junior school campus on Wednesday.

Since then, three more schools have had positive cases attend classes.

The clusters occurred on the same week all year groups were back in classrooms for in-person learning following Canberra's lockdown.

Ms Stephen-Smith said nearly all close and casual contacts linked to the outbreak had been identified.

"We've seen in other clusters that there will be further household transmission," she said.

The health minister also admitted health authorities could have been clearer about requirements forcing some fully vaccinated people to quarantine.

Travellers entering the ACT from high-risk areas who had been fully vaccinated for less than two weeks were still subject to stay at home orders upon arrival.

ACT health authorities have since removed the requirement following confusion over the arrangements.

"The website has been updated with that information right up the front," Ms Stephen-Smith said.

"We should have been clearer about what we meant by fully vaccinated for the purpose of travel."

Thirteen new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in the ACT.

The latest figures show there are six patients with the virus in ACT hospitals, with two of those being treated in intensive care and on a ventilator.

Meanwhile, the full vaccination rate for Canberra has climbed to 94 per cent of those aged 12 and over.

There are now 144 active cases in the community in the ACT.

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