The ACT government is considering expected levels of NSW COVID hospitalisations as it forms a reopening plan for Canberra, saying it has to anticipate a flow of patients into the city's hospitals from surrounding districts.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr on Sunday said he had repeatedly asked NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian for assurances that the state could look after its own coronavirus patients as much as possible.
The ACT recorded 15 new COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday, as Canberra marked one month since its lockdown began.
Mr Barr, who is expected to provide details on the path out of lockdown on Tuesday, said the territory government had to consider transfers of seriously ill patients from smaller southern NSW hospitals into Canberra Hospital.
"There is a fact about hospital resources in southern NSW in particular, that there is a reliance on Canberra Hospital as the tertiary hospital for the region," he said.
"Our planning does have to factor in there being some transfer from Queanbeyan Hospital, Bega Hospital, some of the other smaller regional hospitals into our health system.
"That is lessened by good public health social measures in the regions."
Asked whether the ACT government accepted NSW modelling showing the state's COVID hospitalisations would peak in October, Mr Barr said the territory had no reason to reject it.
"We are working closely with the southern area health service in particular. And so we have factored in some flow of patients, severely ill patients into our system," he said.
"We anticipated this 18 months ago, and that's why we built the Garran Surge Centre."
Of the 15 new COVID cases in Canberra, health authorities were able to link eight to previous infections, while the source of the remaining cases were under investigation.
Five of the new cases were in quarantine, while at least nine were in the community for some time while infectious. The remaining case was still under investigation.
There are now 10 people in hospital with COVID, with three receiving intensive care, and one requiring ventilation. The youngest person in hospital is under 12. The people in intensive care range from their 40s to their 60s.
Mr Barr said 44,000 vaccine doses had been administered in the ACT last week. Ninety five per cent of the ACT population aged 50 or above had received a first dose of a vaccine, and 75 per cent had received two doses.
"This is a very high level of vaccination, but it still leaves a pretty large number of older Canberrans who either haven't received a first dose or haven't completed their vaccination program. It is critical for people in this age group, who are the most susceptible to developing severe illness if they contract the virus, to become fully vaccinated as soon as possible," he said.
Vaccination rates in younger Canberrans were lower, given they had only recently become eligible - 29 per cent of 35 to 39 year olds and 15 per cent of those aged 20 to 24 have had two doses.
"It is going to take some time and patience before we get an equitable level of vaccine coverage across our entire community," Mr Barr said.
The ACT's double-dose vaccination rate among over-16s has surpassed 50 per cent.
The Southern NSW Local Health District was notified of two new COVID-19 cases in Queanbeyan.
NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant on Sunday also said there were worrying signs in the Yass community, where authorities detected fragments of the virus in the town's treatment plant.
"I'm particularly concerned by Yass where we're seeing an increase in the level of sewage detection," Dr Chant said.
"I ask those in Yass to come out for testing with the most minimal of symptoms and to follow all the public health advice."
Yass Valley local government area came out of lockdown on Saturday.
Mr Barr said police and Access Canberra staff were still detecting a small number of businesses in the ACT who were not complying with requirements for staff to wear masks.
He expressed frustration that, a month into the lockdown, there were still businesses not complying.
"We again remind businesses that one of the things we are striving for here is to allow you to operate and to trade, but part of this is you've got to have staff wearing masks properly, that is essential to be able to trade safely," he said.
However, most business who were checked improved their compliance after the issue was identified, he said. Those that did not fix their compliance risked fines and potentially even being shut.
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