The rising number of cases of coronavirus in Canberra and restrictions on businesses have government and community services bracing for a steep rise in demand for support.
Nine new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the ACT in the last 24-hours.
Authorities say they’re still undertaking contact tracing but confirmed eight of the new cases were linked to recent overseas travel, and one is a close contact of another confirmed case.
ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said the results show the importance of the self-quarantine period for returned travellers.
“If you are returning from overseas, assume you have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, assume you may develop COVID-19 and self-quarantine.”
“We are still continuing to see the vast majority of cases in the ACT, and many of our cases across Australia are in returned travellers from overseas and close contacts.”
Meanwhile, the territory’s first case of COVID-19, confirmed on 12 March 2020, has since recovered and is no longer required to self-isolate.
Three people with the virus remain in Canberra Hospital in a stable condition.
Authorities say more than 3219 people who were tested in the ACT were found not to have coronavirus.
Community Food Pantry
The ACT Government has committed $1.5 million to a community pantry for Canberrans struggling to make ends meet as a result of the pandemic.
Uniting Care Kippax, Oz Harvest and The Foodbank will provide urgent food and essential items over an initial six-month period.
ACT Community Services Minister Suzanne Orr said the first stage of the project will be aimed at providing support to existing crisis and relief centres.
The second stage, set to begin early next week, will provide support to individuals and families who aren’t able to use existing services.
“If you are isolated because of COVID-19, if you are elderly or have a disability or a health issue and you don’t want to go out in public and get food, if you are unemployed and need to get food on the table: let us know, we will help,” Ms Orr said.
Uniting Care Kippax’s Chief Executive Officer Steve Coster said community services are preparing for a rise in demand for support.
“We’re not sure how long this piece of string is,” Mr Coster said.
“We’re concerned that there’s already a lot of vulnerable people in Canberra – all the agencies that we work with have already seen an increase in demand.”
Mr Coster said a warehouse is being stocked and sorted to provide “essentials packs” similar to those handed out at Christmas time by community service providers.
“We are scrambling, but it’s coming together well.”
A call centre will be set up to assist people in self-isolation or quarantine, with a number to be published on Uniting Care Kippax’s website.
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