The ACT could look to tighten its contact tracing rules for Omicron exposure sites, after the ACT's Health Minister revealed the territory has recorded its first instance of transmission at a casual exposure location.
There are now five positive Omicron cases in the territory and a NSW resident has also tested positive to the variant of concern after being exposed to the virus in the ACT.
But in better news, the ACT only reported three new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and only one was acquired within the territory. This is the lowest daily tally for cases since August 14.
As health authorities seek to understand more about the nature of the variant, Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith has flagged further possible changes to contact tracing and the reintroduction of masks in indoor settings.
Ms Stephen-Smith said two exposure sites - the Knox Made in Watson cafe and the Next Gen Canberra gym in Lyneham - were upgraded from casual to close exposure sites after they were visited by a positive Omicron case.
A person who was deemed a casual contact tested positive to the virus and Ms Stephen-Smith said this might possibly trigger changes - dependent on further health advice.
"So that's another thing that will come into play as we learn more about Omicron, whether the public health officials need to reconsider the threshold that they set for close or casual contacts," she said.
"[But] that's something I think we just don't know enough about at this point to set up a hard and fast new rule about Omicron."
When the ACT's lockdown was lifted chief health officer Kerryn Coleman also relaxed rules around the identification of close and casual contact sites. Since lockdown has been lifted there have been fewer close contact sites.
Under the ACT's current rules a casual contact is not required to isolate, however, they must get a test. If this test is taken fewer than five days after they were deemed a contact they must also get another test on the fifth day after an exposure.
The rules were changed when the territory emerged out of lockdown, prior to that casual contacts had to isolate for five days.
Ms Stephen-Smith could not say whether the 14-day quarantine period for close and secondary contacts of Omicron cases could be relaxed in time for Christmas. She said this was a matter for the territory's chief health officer.
She said it was a highly precautionary approach as authorities sought to understand the nature of the variant, including how transmissible it was, its incubation period and if it was effective against vaccines.
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Ms Stephen-Smith said a relaxation of mandatory QR codes and a dropping of density limits was still on the backburner.
She also said a reintroduction of mask requirements for indoors was under consideration.
"It really is only the mask wearing inside that is something the chief health officer is even considering at this point in time," she said.
"But at this time with only one new locally acquired case overnight ... we're not seeing widespread community transmission so it's really a question of waiting to see what more we can learn about the Omicron variant and what we continue to see in the ACT over the next few days."
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