The seventh death of Canberra's COVID-19 outbreak has prompted concerns for vulnerable members of the community, as experts warn these groups will still be at grave risk from the virus.
A sixth death associated with the Calvary Haydon Retirement Community will be announced on Thursday, taking the total COVID-related deaths in Canberra to 10 since the start of the pandemic.
The Canberra Times can also reveal contact tracers have identified the source of the outbreak as a resident, despite initial reports a staff member was the source.
News of the death came after the ACT recorded a spike in new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday with 51 new cases.
Of the new cases reported in the ACT on Wednesday, 32 were linked to known cases. Thirteen cases were in quarantine during their whole infectious period and 22 who spent time in the community present a risk of transmission to others.
The ACT's latest death was not reported in Wednesday's COVID update as it happened after the 8pm cutoff and will be officially announced by authorities on Thursday. But a statement from Calvary said the resident was receiving end-of-life care before testing positive to the virus on September 28.
Nine residents and four staff are associated with the outbreak.
"The deaths of our residents has caused significant sadness and loss for their loved ones, the other residents and our staff who have cared for them during their time at Calvary Haydon," a Calvary spokesperson said.
ACT Health has also confirmed a resident was the initial source of the outbreak.
"ACT Health can confirm the index case for the outbreak at the Calvary Haydon Aged Care Facility was a resident, although it was a staff member that was the first identified positive case," an ACT Health spokesman said.
The sixth death has served as a timely reminder that although the territory is coming out of lockdown certain groups will still be vulnerable to the virus even with high vaccine rates, experts and officials have warned.
University of Canberra assistant professor in public health Dr Indira Samarawickrema said it was important to protect these groups.
"There would be a certain risk because these are the populations who are not as strong as young people and so they would be susceptible to illnesses generally," she said.
"Once again we have to protect these vulnerable groups, especially in aged care centres because if one person gets the illness it can spread very quickly."
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Dr Samarawickrema said it was important for the community to maintain a range of public health measures to curb the spread of the virus.
"We still have to continue the good things Canberrans have done like maintaining social distancing and wearing masks," she said.
"And also we have to ensure that we maintain the same precaution so that the hospitalisations won't increase because frontline health workers have done such a tremendous job."
Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith echoed the sentiments.
"As we come out of lockdown, it's still really important to continue following the health advice and restrictions that remain in place across the ACT," she said.
"We must continue working together to reduce the spread of COVID-19, which we know disproportionately affects the most vulnerable people in our community."
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