Tas braces for local COVID transmission

·3-min read

Health authorities are warning Tasmanians there will soon be locally-transmitted COVID-19 cases, on the same day the state reported its highest ever daily infection number.

Tasmania reported 26 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, from the 24 hours to 8pm Wednesday, bringing its total number of active cases to 52.

Three new infections were found in household contacts, one was an international arrival and the remaining cases were from interstate, half from New South Wales.

Director of Public Health Mark Veitch said there had not yet been a case transmitted locally in Tasmania, but warned this would happen soon.

"Within the coming days we will start to see occasional cases of people who have been infected in Tasmania," he told reporters in Hobart on Thursday.

"That's a very important reason to be mindful of the community risk and to take steps to reduce the risk of getting infected."

All of the active cases have been recorded since the island state reopened to fully vaccinated travellers from the mainland on December 15.

Dr Veitch said cases would continue to rise every day for the "foreseeable future".

Twenty-eight cases are being managed at home, 10 are in a community case management facility and 12 are still being assessed or processed.

One COVID-positive person is in hospital with a seperate medical condition.

Premier Peter Gutwein said there would be no change to the state's border rules, which require fully vaccinated people to take a PCR COVID-19 test to be taken within 72 hours of arriving in the state.

"We will consider our advice when it comes, but there is no change to our current border rules in terms of the 72-hour PCR test," he told reporters.

"I want to say to people coming to the state that I know it can be difficult, but you need to get that test."

He urged people to use "common sense" over Christmas by isolating and testing if they felt unwell, checking in, wearing masks and practising good hygiene.

Tasmanians are required to wear masks at all indoor venues, as well as on public transport and ride-sharing services.

The state has ordered another 100,000 Rapid Antigen Tests to add to its stockpile, the premier said.

As part of the health system's preparations, the Royal Hobart Hospital is setting up external triage areas outside its the emergency department.

From Friday, people visiting emergency will be screened for COVID-19 in the triage area before being allocated to a medical area within the hospital.

Meanwhile, the state opposition is calling for better communication from the government.

It comes after a person complained they were informed about being a close contact with a plane passenger via email and a business found out they were an exposure site on social media.

"We are already hearing from Tasmanians who have raised the need for better communication from the government at this challenging time," Labor health spokeswoman Anita Dow said.

"This poor communication does nothing to instil confidence in Tasmanians."

Mr Gutwein has defended the state government's reopening plan, after the Greens called for Tasmania to again close to Victoria, NSW and the ACT.

More than 96 per cent of Tasmanians have received their first COVID-19 vaccination and 90.87 per cent have received two doses.

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