ACT records 15 new virus cases

ADF troops will soon help patrol the ACT border, as the territory records 15 new COVID-19 cases.
ADF troops will soon help patrol the ACT border, as the territory records 15 new COVID-19 cases.

The ACT has added 15 locally acquired infections to its COVID-19 caseload, with at least seven of them circulating within the community for some days.

Health officials say seven of the cases are linked to known outbreaks with the remainder under investigation.

The territory's case total for the current outbreak now stands at 601, with 364 having recovered and 237 still active. Eight people remain in Canberra hospitals, the youngest of them aged 12.

One patient is in intensive care.

Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Vanessa Johnston says the ACT currently has 765 identified close contacts and more than 300 active virus exposure locations.

However there were no new sites to add overnight and none of the 15 new cases could be linked to existing locations.

The latest numbers on Saturday came as Chief Minister Andrew Barr warned Canberrans should not presume "freedom day" would coincide with the territory hitting the 70 per cent full vaccination marker.

"It never was and it never will be at 70 per cent," he told reporters.

"It's a gradual ease out of the current restrictions."

Mr Barr said national cabinet had been told on Friday that abandoning public health measures at 70 per cent would not be prudent especially for jurisdictions with active cases.

He also said further consideration of how the easing of restrictions and ongoing vaccination rollout would be balanced would come back to cabinet in a fortnight.

In the meantime, Mr Barr hoped the Commonwealth would not withdraw vaccines from a jurisdiction experiencing an active outbreak.

"I would hope that given we have been very generous in providing between 10 and 12 per cent of our supply to NSW ... we have been good neighbours," he said.

"We are in the middle of an outbreak and I would hope that we wouldn't see a reduction in our vaccine supply."

Australian Defence Force troops will meanwhile help patrol the ACT border in coming days in an attempt to stop people illegally coming into Canberra from NSW.

Mr Barr said on Friday the ADF would be used for the first time along the border after multiple reports of COVID-19 coming into Canberra from interstate.

With Saturday marking the first day of the school holidays, he said there would also be additional police patrols at major entry points to the ACT.

ACT Health says 81.2 per cent of Canberrans aged over 16 have received at least their first vaccine dose, making it the second jurisdiction after NSW to reach the milestone.

Health figures also showed more than 56 per cent of over-16s in the ACT are fully vaccinated, which is the highest of any state or territory.

However Mr Barr said coming out of lockdown depended on the national average hitting target levels, not those set by individual states or territories.

The ACT administered 2173 vaccination doses in the 24 hours to Friday evening.

Thirty new virus cases reported on Friday was the second-highest number in a single day for the territory.

Australian Associated Press