Second suspected Omicron case among seven new ACT COVID-19 infections | Canberra Times

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Another suspected case of the Omicron variant is among seven new COVID-19 infections registered in Canberra on Saturday. Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said the government was closely monitoring the new variant but was not considering reintroducing social restrictions at this time as it continued to plan as “COVID normal Christmas as possible”. The seven new cases bring the active number for ACT to 119. Six people are in hospital, three of them in intensive care. Stephen-Smith said one of the new cases reported on Saturday was close contact with ACT’s first confirmed Omicron case, meaning it was “likely” that they were also infected with the new strain. She said genomic sequencing would confirm if that was the case, though the results may not be known until early next week because the individual required another test due to their low viral load. Canberra’s first case of Omicron was reported to the public late Friday afternoon. ACT Health now believes the first case, which had not been filed abroad, was linked to an exposure in NSW. ACT has moved quickly to impose 14-day quarantine requirements for close contacts of Omicron cases, as well as their household contacts – regardless of the vaccination status of individuals. There are 20 close contacts associated with the confirmed Omicron case. A further 33 returning travelers have also been considered close contacts after returning to Australia on the same flight as someone infected with the new variant. The South Australian government on Saturday announced new test requirements for arrivals from ACT, NSW and Victoria, with Prime Minister Steven Marshall saying he was “extraordinarily concerned” about the emergence of a variant he described as a “game changer”. Marshall has not ruled out closing the border to the three jurisdictions if the situation worsens. When asked on Saturday about her views on the new strain, Stephen-Smith said there was not enough known about the variant – including its transmissibility and response to vaccines – to be able to make firm assessments. She said the government was not considering reintroducing restrictions. The first measure to return would be to wear an indoor mask, she said. “I think that [indoor mask wearing] is the one kind of thing that we can do very easily and that will not have a significant impact on people’s ability to move towards such a COVID-normal Christmas and New Year as we can possibly have, “she said. That is really the goal of our health authorities at this time, to enable people to have as normal a life as possible during this Christmas New Year and the summer period. “1334 negative tests were received in 24 hours to 9 p.m. Meanwhile, the percentage of eligible people who are now fully vaccinated has reached 97.9 percent as of Friday, December 3. MORE COVID-19 NEWS: NSW reported another 325 new COVID-19 cases Saturday and one death, 12 fewer than the number reported on Friday, which was the highest number in six weeks.There have been a total of 11 Omicron cases confirmed by genomic testing in NSW since the first two cases were reported on Sunday , but only six of them are linked to the eight countries , which gives rise to concern. Meanwhile, Victoria added 136 5 infections to its COVID-19 case and recorded a further nine virus-related deaths. The state continues to handle nearly 14,400 active coronavirus cases. There are 288 virus patients in Victorian hospitals, 44 of them in intensive care and 20 requiring ventilation. Health authorities said virus testers managed to process 67,545 results during the reporting period. With AAP READ MORE: Our coverage of the health and safety aspects of this outbreak of COVID-19 in ACT is free for all to access. However, we rely on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, sign up here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support. You can also sign up for our newsletters for regular updates. Our journalists work hard to deliver local, up-to-date news to the local community. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content:

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