12 March 2020

First case of coronavirus appears in ACT

| Michael Weaver
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ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith and Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerryn Coleman

ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith and Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerryn Coleman. Photo: Dominic Giannini, Region Media.

Following 441 negative tests in the ACT for coronavirus, Canberra has confirmed its first case of the virus today (12 March).

“I regret to inform Canberrans that we have our first case of COVID-19 in the Territory,” ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said.

ACT’s Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said a man aged in his 30s tested positive for the virus, also known as COVID-19.

Dr Coleman said the man became unwell on Tuesday and presented to the Weston Creek walk-in centre on Wednesday with symptoms including fever and fatigue.

The man has been taken to Canberra Hospital.

Dr Coleman said the man had recently been overseas but most likely contracted the virus within Australia as he had also been outside the ACT.

Health authorities are working to contact those who have come into close contact with the man during the past 14 days.

Dr Coleman could not confirm if the man had been exposed to coronavirus by an Australian Defence Force member who flew into Canberra last month while infectious with the virus.

Dr Coleman said the Canberra community should remain calm despite the positive test and that Canberra Hospital and Calvary Public Hospital were well prepared to treat patients with coronavirus.

“We are taking all necessary precautions to ensure the ongoing safety of staff and patients. We have been practising for this for many weeks now.

“We can reassure everyone that hospital and health staff are prepared for this,” Dr Coleman said.

The Chief Minister also said large public events such as Skyfire this Saturday night would still go ahead, but the Government will continue to monitor the situation.

Mr Barr also urged Canberrans to practise good hygiene and “work with us to minimise the spread of the virus”.

The news comes as the World Health Organisation reclassified the virus from an epidemic to a pandemic, meaning it has spread across multiple continents.

There were more than 130 cases across Australia, with 77 confirmed in NSW.

Original Article published by Michael Weaver on The RiotACT.

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