The ACT's Chief Minister has made a desperate plea for people with COVID symptoms to get tested immediately, expressing concern about a troubling number of people infectious in the community.
The vast majority of COVID-19 cases recorded in the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday were infectious in the community. Of the 18 cases, only three were in quarantine for their entire infectious period.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said part of the reason for the high number of people infectious in the community was people had waited to get tested after developing symptoms.
But the territory received an unexpected vaccine boost on Friday with the federal government's announcement of extra Pfizer doses. Mr Barr said he anticipated extra Pfizer vaccine supply would bring forward jabs by about a week and a half.
Of the 18 new cases, 13 had been linked as of Friday morning and the remaining five were under investigation.
There are 10 people in hospital but the number of people in intensive care has dropped from four to three. One remains on a ventilator, which is a 24-year-old man.
Cases numbers in the territory continue to fluctuate, with no discernible daily trend of infections either increasing or decreasing.
Chief health officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said it was important to put emphasis on the longer term trend rather than day-to-day case numbers. She said this showed a slight downward trend but warned it was slow.
"We have reached a plateau at the moment, which is showing us an up and down of case numbers," she said.
"I think we are still trending in the right direction but the concern is that it's really slow now, we're only just slightly decreasing down."
The ACT government is also considering whether it will change advice around shortening the wait time between AstraZeneca doses, after Victoria brought forward its wait time to six weeks.
But extra Pfizer vaccines may factor into the ACT government's decision, after the Commonwealth secured four million doses of Pfizer in a vaccine swap deal with the United Kingdom.
Mr Barr said he was first made aware of the extra Pfizer doses only minutes before he provided the daily COVID update on Friday.
He said based on per capita doses the ACT would receive between 65,000 to 68,000, which is about a week and a half of extra supply.
The Chief Minister had warned young Canberrans against taking "unnecessary risks" on Thursday, and urged them to consider the widely available AstraZeneca jab.
However, based on the 12-week waiting period between doses a person who received the AstraZeneca jab today would not be fully vaccinated until late November.
If this was shortened to six weeks, people would be fully vaccinated by mid-October, which is the earliest date people aged between 16 to 29 were able to book at an ACT government vaccine clinic this week.
Most appointments for 16 to 29 year olds at the ACT government's mass vaccination clinics for Pfizer are scheduled for October and November. The Pfizer vaccine only has a three-week wait between doses.
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But Mr Barr said young Canberrans, regardless of the extra supply, should still consider getting an AstraZeneca jab.
"It's important to get a first dose protection, a first dose protection is better than nothing," he said.
"The one thing that is very clear in all of the medical research and evidence in relation to vaccination is that one dose is better than being unvaccinated and so I would still encourage people to start that vaccination process."
Mr Barr also hit out at people wearing masks incorrectly, saying they looked like a dork. Authorities have reported that compliance is lacking across some businesses with staff wearing masks incorrectly or not at all.
"I cannot understand how people don't seem to get the point of the mask, like it is just useless wearing it under your chin," he said.
"It's just useless leaving your nose exposed, as well. When your mask is on it's got to cover your nose and your mouth, that's the whole point of it really.
"You sort of just look like a bit of a dork really going around with a mask under your chin, it's not the most fashionable of looks I would have thought."
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