ACT records seventh COVID death of outbreak as case numbers jump ahead of Friday lifting of lockdown

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Another COVID-19 death has been recorded in the ACT, the seventh since the most recent outbreak began.

It comes as 46 new locally acquired cases were reported in the ACT on Thursday, the day before Canberra emerges from lockdown.

Health authorities have confirmed a man in his 80s died at an aged care facility in Canberra’s north where he was receiving end-of-life care.

There have now been six COVID-19 deaths associated with the Calvary Haydon Retirement Community.

Of the new cases, 30 were linked to known cases and 22 of those were household contacts.

Some 18 of the 46 new cases were in quarantine for all of their infectious period, while 16 were assessed as being a risk of transmission to others.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr says steps out of lockdown will be ‘gentle and measured’ with the territory recording dozens of new infections on Thursday. Credit: AAP

The number of patients in Canberra hospitals with COVID-19 now stands at 16, including six in intensive care and five on a ventilator.

Since the start of Canberra’s lockdown, there have been 1359 cases, with 119 in hospital and 24 in intensive care.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the end of the Canberra lockdown on Friday did not mean the end of COVID-19 in the territory.

“That’s why the first step out of lockdown will be a gentle and measured step forward,” Barr said.

‘Lockdown has not been easy, but it has kept case numbers significantly lower than it otherwise would have been.

“Tomorrow is not the end of the pandemic, the virus will continue to spread in the community but tomorrow is a step forward though.”

The territory’s chief health officer Dr Kerry Coleman said it is not known how high case numbers will rise after restrictions ease and movement increases.

Intensive care capacity will be able to be scaled up if needed, with the ACT government investing in technology to minimise infection rates in hospitals.

The latest vaccine figures have shown 98.8 per cent of eligible residents over 12 have received a first dose and 74.7 per cent have been fully vaccinated.

“The statistic that matters, and the one we are focusing on in coming weeks, is the percentage that is fully vaccinated,” Barr said.

“We want to see our world-leading first dose rate translate into a world-leading fully vaccinated rate.”

A decision was likely to be made soon on what cross-border travel would be possible with NSW once lockdown restrictions ease.

The ending of the lockdown will also see travel ease between the ACT and Victoria.

Victoria’s Deputy Premier James Merlino said the ACT would be reclassified from a red travel zone to an orange travel zone.

This means travellers from ACT will be able to enter Victoria with an exemption, but will have to isolate and get a COVID test within 72 hours of arrival and return a negative result.

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