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The Canberra Times

Health Minister infected as COVID hospital numbers remain high

In-depth COVID

ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith has announced she has tested positive to COVID-19.

Ms Stephen-Smith said on social media that she had tested positive on a rapid antigen test on Monday morning.

"I've done a lot of RATs over the last few weeks. This morning I had cold symptoms and the RAT came up positive, so I'll be working from home for the next week," she tweeted.

The ACT has recorded second highest rate of COVID-19 hospitalisations, reporting 91 people in hospital with the virus in the 24 hours until Sunday 8pm.

This is one fewer than Saturday when there were 92 people in Canberra hospitals with COVID.

There are four people in the ICU and two on ventilators.

The ACT recorded 622 new COVID-19 cases, 314 from PCR tests and 308 recorded on rapid antigen tests.

COVID hospitalisations in the ACT have been at record highs throughout this week. It is putting an enormous strain on the territory's health system, with elective surgeries needing to be postponed.

Hospitals are also struggling with other illnesses, including influenza, which is already higher than pre-pandemic years.

The vaccination rate in the ACT has remained stagnated, with 97.2 per cent of people aged over five years receiving two doses, wile booster rates are at 80.6 per cent among over-16s.

Canberra schools are also struggling with COVID, with staff shortages caused by positive infections leading to many students in remote learning.

The World Health Organisation has warned leaders the COVID-19 pandemic is not over, saying that "declining testing and sequencing means we are blinding ourselves to the evolution of the virus".

Around Australia

National aged and healthcare leaders have urged the incoming Labor government to help them fight the virus.

Nearly three in ten Australians have been recorded as having COVID-19, with 6.98 million Australians - or 27 per cent of the population - confirmed as having had the virus. There have also been 8109 deaths.

In NSW, there have been 7127 new recorded cases of COVID-19. There have been five more confirmed deaths, 1236 hospitalisations, 35 patients in ICU and nine on ventilators.

Victoria has recorded 8971 new cases, with 14 hospitalisations. There are no patients in the ICU. Five people with the virus died on Sunday.

Our coverage of the health and safety aspects of this outbreak of COVID-19 in the ACT is free for anyone to access. However, we depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support. You can also sign up for our newsletters for regular updates.

ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith has tested positive to COVID. Picture: Elesa Kurtz
Booster rates in Canberra remain behind second dose uptake, with hospitalisations still high. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong
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