Canberra public health emergency extended until May

The ACT will remain in a public health emergency until at least May to deal with the threat of COVID-19.

Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith announced on Wednesday the decision had been made based on the advice of ACT chief health officer Kerryn Coleman.

The government has extended Canberra's public health emergency every three months throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

The new 90-day extension will take Canberra up to May 18.

Ms Stephen-Smith said: "While the ACT is in a very good position, COVID-19 remains a threat to our community.

"The reality is we will be living with COVID-19 until a vaccine is widely available to everyone."

Declaring a public health emergency gives powers to the chief health officer to take whatever action is needed to protect Canberrans from COVID-19.

The ACT's five-stage COVID-19 vaccination rollout plan is due to begin on Monday, with frontline healthcare, quarantine and border workers to be among the first to receive the Pfizer jab.

Residents and staff at aged care facilities also fall under phase "1a" of the rollout, but the federal government is handling their vaccinations.

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Australia's first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine landed in Sydney on Monday, and the TGA provisionally approved the AstraZeneca vaccine on Tuesday.

Ms Stephen-Smith said while those developments were very positive for the territory, "we have a way to go in completing the vaccine roll out across the country".

"We need to ensure we have the right processes in place to quickly and appropriately respond to any threat of COVID-19 in our community," she said.

"Canberrans can expect a public health emergency will be in place for some months to come and most likely throughout 2021."

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said on Monday that adults in Canberra could expect to be eligible to get the Pfizer jab by July at the earliest.

Children 16 and under could be eligible by September, if that was recommended.

The Pfizer vaccine will first be administered to those in the phase "1a" category at the Garran Surge Centre.

The centre has been operating as a COVID-19 testing centre and will next week take on the dual role of testing centre and Pfizer vaccination hub.

ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

This story Canberra public health emergency extended until May first appeared on The Canberra Times.