The ACT has recorded 19 new coronavirus cases on Friday, including two cases linked to the Haydon Retirement Community.
Chief Health Officer Kerryn Coleman said there were several additional cases related to the retirement community that would be included in tomorrow's COVID figures.
Health authorities are also targeting growing COVID-19 case numbers in the inner north suburb of Watson with pop up testing.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr on Friday said four of Canberra's 19 new cases were in quarantine for their infectious period and at least 13 were infectious in the community.
Twelve cases have been linked to previous cases and the remainder are still under investigation.
Twelve patients are in hospital with COVID-19 and three of these are in intensive care. Two of the patients are on ventilation.
Dr Coleman said two of the 19 new COVID cases were linked to the Haydon Retirement Community, and were staff members who had been fully vaccinated and wearing personal protective equipment.
However there were several additional cases not included in Friday's figures that were linked to the retirement community. Dr Coleman said she would not announce the number as ACT Health contacted the positive cases today.
When asked whether the additional cases were staff or residents, Dr Coleman said there was a mix but that she would provide more detail when all cases were notified.
"I absolutely understand that this may be distressing news for the families and residents at the facility," she said.
"We are working very closely with Calvary who are communicating directly with residents and their families regarding the outbreak and keeping them up to date with the actions Calvary has taken and will be taking to ensure that the residents are kept safe and for their well being."
Health officials are working quickly to minimise the risk of an aged care outbreak after a worker tested positive earlier this week and sent residents of the Haydon Retirement Community, which is run by Calvary Care, into lockdown.
"We are working closely with ACT Health on contact tracing which includes tracking down and contacting all relevant individuals who have been in contact with the affected person," a Calvary spokesperson said.
Residents have been tested and are isolating in their rooms. Family members are being contacted to keep them informed about the situation.
Focus on Watson cases
Health authorities will set up a pop up testing clinic in Watson at the weekend as coronavirus cases in the suburb reach 30. Half this figure has been detected in the last fortnight.
Dr Coleman said ACT Health did not know yet whether there was a concerning level of transmission in the suburb but that the territory would emulate NSW and Victorian health authorities in targeting areas with larger case numbers.
She said there was no common link between the cases in Watson, prompting health authorities to focus on the suburb.
"We have no public transmission sites, certainly the spread of cases are across Watson, and also come from a number of different backgrounds, including essential workers and other community members," Dr Coleman said.
"When we do this from a geographical perspective, it's kind of the next step in our investigations, to say we can't understand what's going on from all the other information we have.
"Let's try this one and see if we can get to the bottom of it, and interrupt any transmission that's occurring."
Dr Coleman encouraged Watson residents with symptoms to get tested at the pop up site.
"Our call-out would be to those people who are unable to access testing at another site, maybe they don't have a car, or maybe they have a child under five years of age," she said.
Lack of detail defended
Dr Coleman defended the ACT government's decision to delay providing detail about the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions, saying the developing COVID situation would have forced changes to the plan.
She acknowledged the community wanted detail about the reopening plan.
"This is an incredibly tricky situation. This is about trying to balance our pathway through the next couple of months as we relax our social restrictions, as we increase our vaccination coverage, and as we work through what our public health requirements of individuals are going to be," Dr Coleman said.
"I don't have the answer for everything, my team doesn't have the answer for everything. What we are doing is working through what we have available to use, the evidence we have available to us in the local context, to provide what we can to people when we can.
"If we went out last week or the week before with some very solid dates, and some very solid examples, I suspect that about half of that would need to change on the basis of our changing outbreak conditions, as well as our changing discussion at the (health committee) as well at national cabinet."
The ACT is expected to be the first jurisdiction to hit the 60 per cent fully vaccinated milestone in the coming days, and the Chief Minister is pushing for the highest vaccination rate in Australia to protect the capital.
Mr Barr on Friday said 57.5 per cent of ACT residents were fully vaccinated and 83.5 per cent had received their first vaccine dose.
The government will wait until the end of next week before revealing more details about plans to ease lockdown restrictions for businesses, schools and outdoor interactions, refusing to rush announcements despite a lack of clarity.
Case numbers have fluctuated over the past week, prompting government officials to all but abandon hopes of reaching zero COVID-19 cases in Canberra.
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