Australia

The ACT awakes to first day in lockdown as authorities race to stop COVID-19 spread

Canberra is locked down for a week as health authorities race to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Australia’s capital.

A local man was out and about for four days with the virus and his infection is thought to be linked to Sydney’s spiralling outbreak. Three of his close contacts have also contracted COVID-19.

The ACT is shut off from most of the country and NSW is imposing stay-at-home orders for anyone who has been in Canberra since 5 August.

Both houses of parliament were already due to rise when the seven-day lockdown kicked in on Thursday evening.

The next sitting fortnight is due to begin on 23 August.

Government minister Jane Hume said it was too early to make a call on whether the scheduled parliament sitting would go ahead.

“Many of us were staying here over the next week anyway because in order to go home they would have to quarantine,” she told the ABC.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr speaks to the media during a press conference in Canberra, Thursday, 12 August, 2021.

AAP

Canberra’s exposure sites are expected to grow significantly after the man in his 20s from the northern suburb of Gunghalin went from a nightclub to church and multiple shops between Sunday and Wednesday.

It’s unclear how exactly he became infected, but ACT Chief Health Officer Kerryn Coleman on Thursday said it’s highly likely to be with the Delta variant from Sydney.

“I suspect its Delta and I suspect the source is from the Sydney outbreak,” she said.

Canberra has not had locally acquired COVID-19 cases for 13 months.

Residents in communities bordering the ACT can enter without an exemption for essential work or to receive health care.

The federal government has extended disaster support payments to people who have lost work in Canberra.

Business support will be funded 50-50 by the Commonwealth and territory government.

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