Nine aged care residents in Bruce have tested positive for COVID

Staff setting up the pop-up clinic at the Watson oval on Saturday. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong
Staff setting up the pop-up clinic at the Watson oval on Saturday. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Nine COVID cases detected at the Haydon Retirement Community in Bruce had contributed to the ACT recording its highest equal daily total of cases in a single day on Saturday.

ACT Health also activated a pop-up COVID testing clinic in Watson on Saturday as the north Canberra suburb came under the spotlight following a string of unlinked positive cases.

The new testing facility opened from 8am Saturday morning with ACT Health reporting "a steady flow of people visiting for testing, but there is still capacity for more testing for local residents".

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There have been 30 cases in Watson since the start of the outbreak and more than half of those have been recorded in the past two weeks.

None of Saturday's 32 new cases had so far been linked to Watson because any results from the new pop-up clinic would not be collated and assessed until Sunday.

Investigations are still under way into the source of the COVID infection at the Calvarycare-run Haydon aged care facility, despite earlier reports that it may have been introduced by a staff member.

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said it was unknown "what the sequence or timeline of infections were".

Staff set up the pop-up clinic at the Watson oval. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Staff set up the pop-up clinic at the Watson oval. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

However, she said that 92 per cent of the residents were fully vaccinated and 97 per cent had one dose.

Of the nine infected, the majority were vaccinated but three were only partially vaccinated or unvaccinated.

"We are currently nursing and caring for all residents still in the facility but we are working with a lot of infection and prevention expertise on the ground and all of the families of those residents have been involved as well," she said.

"This is a very challenging environment in which to care for people under these circumstances and we are obviously doing everything we can to make this as smooth but as safe as possible."

She also confirmed that all staff at the facility had elected to be single site workers so "there are no implications for other facilities". Vaccination is mandatory for all aged care workers in the ACT.

Flagged by Chief Minister Andrew Barr on Saturday was the emerging issues of how the territory's hospital system would be affected once a decision was made to reduce restrictions in the surrounding region, as a large number of cases unable to treated in NSW were now entering the ACT system. The Canberra Hospital is the major tertiary referral hospital serving the ACT and southern NSW.

David Peffer, the deputy chief executive officer for Canberra Health Services, said ACT Health could expect to see "hundreds of presentations" from NSW to the Canberra hospital system when restrictions are eased.

ACT Health could expect to see 'hundreds of presentations' from surrounding NSW to the Canberra hospital system when restrictions are eased.

He said ACT Health Services had been planning for this eventuality.

"We look largely to the east and the south for those referrals and the retrieval pattern of patients coming in," he said.

"What we're starting to see is pressure up in Sydney generating [local] referrals from the west as well. This has all been factored into the planning in terms of what we might need in the weeks and months ahead.

"It's very hard to put a precise number on NSW presentations [expected] because that would be guided by decisions outside this jurisdiction."

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This story Scramble to support aged care outbreak as NSW cases start to fill ACT wards first appeared on The Canberra Times.