NSW reopening: Barr says ACT to be impacted, COVID detected in Yass

Andrew Barr expects any outbreaks in surrounding regions to impact the ACT's hospitals. Picture: Elesa Kurtz
Andrew Barr expects any outbreaks in surrounding regions to impact the ACT's hospitals. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

The ACT expects an influx of COVID-19 patients from NSW as lockdowns lift in the state's regions.

As various NSW local government areas emerged from lockdown on Saturday, Chief Minister Andrew Barr said he had been assured NSW's reopening plan was calibrated to its intensive care capacity.

But authorities have revealed COVID-19 traces had been discovered in sewage at multiple sites across southern NSW, including nearby Yass.

There were 16 people in hospital across the ACT on Saturday, including three in intensive care and one requiring a ventilator.

And with Canberra Hospital the nearest available public hospital to Yass residents, Mr Barr accepted outbreaks in surrounding regions would add pressure to the system.

"We are expecting that some of the most severely ill people, particularly in the southern area health service, may need to come into the Canberra Hospital," he said.

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"The numbers would be very much linked to the number of cases within that area. We are given assurances by the NSW government that they have planned for this, and that they are making their decisions on easing the restrictions based upon the capacity of their health system.

"But we are cognisant that it is often the case that patients have to come into Canberra."

There were 1164 COVID-19 patients in hospital across NSW, including 221 people in intensive care.

Yass only emerged from lockdown on Saturday morning, but was one of a number of locations where fragments of the virus were discovered by sewage detection.

NSW Health's Jeremy McAnulty on Saturday said no COVID-19 cases had been confirmed at any detection sites - which also included Marouya, Jindabyne, Young, and Harden - but urged residents to be alert to symptoms.

Mr Barr said he had not been made aware of the detections by the NSW government, but he conceded the news would be a blow to Yass residents.

"As I understand it, what the Deputy Premier [John Barilaro] indicated was that might signal a change in position for that for that area," he said.

"[It] would be obviously regrettable for residents ... if they only had one day out of lockdown."

It came as the ACT recorded another 15 cases up to 8pm on Friday, including six in the community for part of their infectious period.

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More than 95 per cent of ACT residents aged 60 years and over have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Mr Barr said a first dose was the best predictor for a person's willingness to become fully-vaccinated.

"So this gives us great confidence that our vaccine program will well exceed the national targets," he said.

On Friday police conducted 602 traffic stops and nine directions were issued to leave the ACT, and 60 checks were conducted by the territory's business compliance team.

"Frustratingly for everyone involved, there were still a small number of businesses who were not following the public health directions and had staff still not wearing masks," Mr Barr said.

"The business compliance team will now be engaging regularly with those businesses who have continued to show non-compliance with the public health directions."

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This story NSW opening to hit ACT hospitals: Barr first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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