Thursday, 26 March 2020

Local news : a snapshot of the plague year in Canberra.

Starting with the smoke emergency.

A summer marked by hazardous air quality and bushfire smoke may have cost 31 Canberrans their lives, according to a new study published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

The study did not analyse pre-existing conditions but measured what public health experts describe as “excess deaths”, or the factor by which observed mortality rates exceed expected mortality rates when major risks like heatwaves, bushfires, pandemics, famine or war are present.

The study estimated that in the ACT, 229 people were admitted to hospital – 82 for cardiovascular problems, and 147 for respiratory problems – while 89 people attended the emergency department because of asthma-related issues.
There were a total of 417 estimated excess deaths because of the bushfire smoke and 4,456 hospitalisations and emergency department visits across NSW, Queensland, Victoria and the ACT.

Between October 2019 and February 2020, the concentration of PM2.5 – fine particles that irritate the respiratory system – exceeding the 95th percentage of historical daily averages was recorded by at least one air-quality monitoring station on 94 per cent of days.

More than a third of Canberra’s summer was spent with air quality levels above hazardous as bushfire smoke blanketed the ACT. Canberra regularly had the world’s worst air quality levels on days throughout the 2020 bushfires.
The air quality in Canberra reached 22 times the hazardous threshold on New Year’s Day, dragged across from the South Coast by unrelenting easterlies.
 And now to the fast moving situation regarding COVID-19.

One person who was diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus has made a full recovery and is now out of self-isolation.

An ACT Health spokesperson confirmed the good news early this afternoon. The person was first diagnosed on 12 March.

“This person has now shed the virus and is no longer required to self-isolate,” the ACT Health spokesperson said.
However, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the ACT in the past 24 hours continues to rise, with a further nine people testing positive.

This brings the ACT’s total to 53 people with the virus.

The new cases include six males and three females, aged between 21 and 83.
“ACT Health is undertaking thorough contact tracing but can confirm that eight of the cases are linked to overseas travel, including cruise ships, and one is a close contact of a confirmed case,” ACT Health said in a statement.

ACT Health said there is still currently no evidence of community transmission in the ACT.

There have been 3219 negative COVID-19 tests in the ACT to date. 

There are currently three COVID-19 patients in the Canberra hospital. All are in a stable condition. The rest are isolating at home with ACT Health support.

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