The ACT will be lucky to drive new COVID-19 infections back down to zero, given the number of cases being reported in the community, an infectious diseases modeller says.
Dr Michael Lydeamore, from Monash University, said the ACT was holding the effective reproductive rate of the Delta variant to about 1, which was a good achievement.
"The demographic of people broadly across the ACT is certainly one that is more able to isolate at home, and that's, I think, the biggest contributor to the constant, rather than increasing, case numbers. It's good to see the vaccines number there, as well, starting to really increase," Dr Lydeamore said.
The ACT reported 19 new cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm on Monday, which included 11 people who had been in quarantine for their entire infectious period.
Six cases were under investigation, but 13 had been linked to known cases or outbreaks.
Eight people remain in ACT hospitals with the virus, including one person in intensive care, who requires ventilation.
Six of the cases in hospital were unvaccinated, while two had only received one dose.
Since the outbreak began, 23 people have spent time in hospital in the ACT for COVID-19 treatment.
There have been 404 cases recorded since the outbreak began; there are 230 active cases remaining following the recoveries of 174 people.
Professor Catherine Bennett, who holds the chair in epidemiology at Deakin University, said the ACT does not need to eliminate the COVID-19 virus from the community to successfully contain the current outbreak, given the growing rate of vaccination.
"At the end of the day, it is about vaccination ... It doesn't mean you can't go to COVID-zero, it just means you don't need to put all your controls in place as if you need to get back to COVID-zero," she said.
Professor Bennett said more extreme public health restrictions could be eased if the number of cases in the ACT was being kept to a minimum, after vaccination targets were reached.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the territory would not yo-yo in and out of restrictions, but it was still too early to say what restrictions would change when the lockdown was due to end on September 17.
"There's no point easing to just see an explosion of cases to then have to put restrictions back in. So, the preferred public policy path is gradual easing, not having to reverse decisions and go back on where we are," Mr Barr said.
"That philosophy is going to guide our decision making."
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Meanwhile, Pfizer vaccine appointments for pregnant women will be brought forward at government-run clinics in the coming weeks, as the cohort is being encouraged to get vaccinated.
Health authorities have stressed the importance of vaccines for pregnant women, with Canberra Health Services acting clinical director of obstetrics Dr Natalie De Cure saying the group was vulnerable to COVID infection.
"We know that women in pregnancy who have COVID are more likely to suffer severe illness," Dr De Cure said.
"They're also more likely to be hospitalised, and also more likely to need intensive care treatment."
Women in their 30s have been reported among some of the most hesitant to get a COVID vaccine.
- with Lucy Bladen
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