08 September 2021



SUBJECT: Canberra COVID outbreak.

TOM ORITI, HOST: In the ACT, though, the territory recorded 19 new cases of COVID yesterday. Canberra now has 230 active cases, eight people have been hospitalized with one in intensive care, requiring ventilation. The Federal MP for Canberra, Alicia Payne joins us now to discuss the latest in the territory. Good morning.




ORITI: Thanks for joining us. So look, how are you feeling at the moment? Numbers still in the double digits, a number of people are in hospital, what's the what's the mood on the ground there in the ACT?


PAYNE: Yes, well, it's a very worrying time for people here in Canberra. But we've seen people really predominantly doing the right things, and we've been really thankful for the leadership of Andrew Barr and the ACT Government in taking that necessary action, quickly. And I, you know, while the numbers do remain high, because of Delta it has been mainly within households. And we had, we've had several outbreaks within schools, which have meant that, then that some passed on with those households. Of concern, I suppose, in particular, that it has been in some vulnerable communities as well, here in Canberra, and but you know, I feel like we are on top of it, and I'm hopeful that we'll start to see those numbers come down soon.


ORITI: When you say 'vulnerable communities', who are you talking about?


PAYNE: So we did have, we have had some transmission within some particular housing complexes here in Canberra, and with, sort of, people in living situations where it's taken some extra, you know, supports in place to ensure that people can be supported if they need to isolate or quarantine, those sorts of things. And obviously, that is, Andrew Barr was speaking about this on 7:30 last night that this is, you know, the worst sort of things that you want to see happening. But I do feel that our ACT Health are doing a great job of keeping these things in, you know, looking after people through this.


ORITI: How concerned are you about the six people who spent time infectious in the community? That's one thing that we're hearing, they're still being investigated by authorities. I mean, are you convinced that people are taking this seriously?


PAYNE: Yeah, well, look, the majority are, and we saw people, you know, doing the right things getting tested, all of that. I think, in the last week or so we have had in the press conferences each day, some concern raised about people who may not be getting tested, as soon as they find out they've been at an exposure site and quarantining so that we have had some people infectious in the community for longer than we would like. And I guess the message is, again, that it's so important to keep up to date with those exposure sites, and to follow the health advice, if you're a close contact, that is to, you know, get tested immediately and to actually quarantine, so not leaving the house at all.


ORITI: What's your view about the road ahead, Alicia? Do you think the lockdown will be extended past the 17th of September?


PAYNE: I wouldn't know any more than anyone else on that. I understand that the ACT Government will be closely looking at the situation, particularly as we get closer to the 17th and probably making a call closer to that time depending on on the cases at that time.


ORITI: Okay. Now, you mentioned there, you know, eight people in hospital with the virus at the moment, one in ICU requiring ventilation. But you mentioned there that the hospitals in Canberra are well-equipped to deal with this outbreak at the moment. But how's the vaccine rollout been going in the ACT? Are you happy with the rates you're seeing there?


PAYNE: Very much so. So ACT has been doing incredibly well with that. We are one of the, well we were in front, we were in front I'm not sure if New South Wales has slightly overtaken us now, but we have very high rates of vaccination. I know that younger people have signed up massively, quickly to get their appointments and we were hopeful that this new shipment of Pfizer will bring some of those forward. I was really pleased to see that the ACT Government announced that Year 12s would get priority in the next week or so, so that they can do their AST tests and things like that as part of the end of Year 12. So yes, the ACT have been doing a fantastic job of going out and getting vaccinated.


ORITI: Yeah, I think in terms of the fully vaccinated number of people, ACT still ahead but that first dose is surging ahead in New South Wales at the moment, so just looking at the latest data in front of me there. Just while we've got you there, almost out of time, but is the border with New South Wales complicating things? Because for people who don't know your neck of the woods, there are a lot of people in areas like Queanbeyan and those areas in New South Wales who cross the border every day for work. I mean, are those travelling with exemptions into the ACT for essential work likely to bring in the virus, given the mounting cases we're seeing in New South Wales?


PAYNE: Well, as you say, there are many people who cross the border every day from say, Queanbeyan or Murrumbateman to work or to access essential things. And there's been, certain postcodes have been exempt and that's all being managed quite well, I understand. So I wouldn't think, you know, that those people, because they just because they live over the border are any more risks than anyone else, and that's essential that they do that. I think more the concern is people who might be coming from other parts of New South Wales, but you know, that is being, police are watching that very carefully too.


ORITI: Okay, Alicia, thank you very much for joining us.


PAYNE: Thanks, Tom.


ORITI: That's Alicia Payne there, the Federal MP for Canberra.