The ACT's chief health officer said the territory remained on track to lift its lockdown next week despite a rise in case numbers, but warned this could change quickly if COVID-safe behaviours were not maintained.
Authorities have expressed alarm at a number of people who waited almost two weeks to get a COVID test after developing symptoms as Canberra's weekly case average has jumped.
Chief health officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said about 40 per cent of people had waited at least two days to get a test and 10 per cent had waited at least five days. A small portion had also waited between 10 to 13 days.
"These statistics are going in the wrong direction," Dr Coleman said.
"I can assure you we are currently on track to meet our timeframes for easing restrictions, we are looking for a good result on the 15th of October.
"Things can change very quickly in the world of COVID, as we have seen, and if we don't maintain our COVID-safe behaviours, then this may happen."
Dr Coleman also revealed ACT health authorities will change their reporting of COVID cases to focus on cases that pose a risk of transmitting the virus in the community.
There were 33 new cases reported in the ACT on Tuesday. Twenty-eight cases have been linked to known sources and the source of the remaining five is under investigation.
Of the new cases, six were in quarantine for all of their infectious period and 14 had spent part of the period in the community and presented a risk of transmission to others.
The remaining 13 had spent part of their time in the community but they posed a minimal risk of transmission, which is a key change in the reporting of cases in the territory.
"Moving forward, we will be focusing our reporting on only those that may pose a risk of transmission to others in the community, not those that we further assess pose a limited or very low level of risk," Dr Coleman said.
"Now we are comfortable to adapt our reporting to focus on these higher risk cases in our community."
It comes after a spike in COVID cases over the past week, following back-to-back record days of 52 cases.
Dr Coleman said the spike had caused the ACT's weekly case number average to jump from 123.5 cases to 132.
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She said the portion of positive tests had also increased from 0.7 per cent to 2 per cent.
"What this helps to tell us is that there is actually a true increase in cases and it's not just due to potentially an increase in testing," Dr Coleman said.
Household and close contacts made up 70 per cent of new cases in the past week. Health authorities had also identified several clusters where transmission occurred, and close contacts of cases tested positive in the same week.
Dr Coleman remained hopeful that the ACT's current lockdown would be able to be lifted next Friday October 15. She said factors that would be considered in any revision of this would include the level of unlinked cases, transmission in reduced risk setting and vaccination coverage.
She said the ACT's vaccination take-up was heartening as the territory prepared to reopen. Sixty-five per cent of people over 12 have been fully vaccinated.
"That is pleasingly reducing my anxiety levels quite significantly about being able to progress through our lockdown steps," Dr Coleman said.
"I would really like our case numbers to be as low as we can keep them as we progress to our next stage."
- With Doug Dingwall
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