The ACT has recorded 52 new cases of coronavirus in the 24 hours to 8pm Thursday, the highest number recorded in this outbreak.
There have also been two deaths. Both are people in their 80s at the Calvary Haydon Retirement Community. Both were receiving end-of-life care.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said that of the 52 cases, 40 had been linked to known cases and 12 were still under investigation. Thirty one of the 52 cases spent some time in the community while infectious.
"Today's increase in case numbers will come as a shock to many, but it's an important reminder that the virus is very much active in our community," the Chief Minister said.
"We have several new exposure sites listed ... please, please ensure you are getting tested as soon as you can and that you isolate whilst you're waiting."
The ACT has had 887 total cases. Of those, 612 people have recovered leaving 275 active cases.
Mr Barr also called on people with vaccination appointments to try to bring them forward.
"We are urging anyone who is waiting for their first dose to make it a priority ... today, over the long weekend or early next week," Mr Barr said.
The record caseload comes on the same day as the ACT has eased its lockdown restrictions, with household visits among the freedoms allowed from Friday.
Chief health officer Kerryn Coleman said authorities were not going to change planned easings further based off Friday's spike in numbers.
"My aim is to leave the settings as we have announced moving forward," she said.
One of the new cases is a vaccinated staff member at the Alexander Maconochie Centre, which has been placed in lockdown. Dr Coleman said she was confident the case had been caught earlier, but could not say there would not be any more cases in the jail.
There are 11 people in hospital, and three of those are in ICU requiring ventilation.
Of the new cases, two have been linked to the Calvary Haydon Retirement Community, bringing the total for that outbreak to 19.
There was also another nine cases linked to a London Circuit building site, bringing the total for that outbreak to 28. Eight of those were household contacts.
Dr Coleman said she knew Friday's case number would be concerning for many people, as it was the highest number for this outbreak so far.
"I must admit that it is a little concerning for us as well, but as I have said previously, a couple of high and low numbers don't make a trend," she said.
She said some fatigue with public health restrictions could have contributed to the high number, however, the lockdown was working. She urged Canberrans not to look for loopholes in the eased rules.
Mr Barr has warned against the opportunity for families to reunite becoming super-spreader events this weekend.
"The biggest cause of transmission of the virus is household close contacts," Mr Barr said.
Health authorities reported 31 cases of coronavirus on Thursday. The Chief Minister said numbers in the 30s would not lead to an extended lockdown.
He said he would not speculate on what number would trigger a lockdown extension after October 15.
"One day is not a trend, we'll need to see what tomorrow's numbers show and what we see over the weekend," he said.
"I don't want to rule anything in or out based on one day's numbers."
The ACT became the first Australian jurisdiction to reach 90 per cent first jab vaccination rate for 12 years and over this week.
Mr Barr said the ACT was on track to have 90 per cent of the territory's eligible population to be double vaxxed by the end of this month.
"This provides a very good level or protection from the virus in the ACT, but we're not there yet and we won't be until the end of this month," Mr Barr said.
"That is why the next two weeks and the two weeks after that are critical for this community."
READ MORE COVID:
Friday's COVID announcement coincides with plans for many Canberrans to reunite with loved ones this weekend.
Eased restrictions meant from Friday morning, two people can visit another household and up to five people can meet outside for exercise or recreation for up to four hours.
More businesses will open for click-and-collect, outdoor personal training and bootcamps are back under strict limits and national parks will reopen.
The Chief Minister has repeatedly advised high vaccination rates was the key to a return to normality for the ACT.
From Thursday, Canberrans aged 60 years and over were eligible to book a Pfizer appointment at an ACT government mass vaccination clinic or a local GP.
The Moderna vaccine is also now available to Canberrans aged over 60, delivered through local pharmacies.
There are more than 390 current exposure locations listed for the ACT. Canberrans are asked to keep up to date on new locations on the ACT COVID-19 website.
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