The Northern Territory has been rocked by its first case of community transmission since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The case has incited a three-day lockdown for the town of Katherine and a 72-hour lockout period for Darwin.
The announcement was made by Chief Minister Michael Gunner during an emergency press conference held at 10pm on Thursday evening. Authorities have not yet discovered the source of the positive case’s infection.
An unvaccinated man in his 20s tested positive after spending time in both the Greater Darwin area and Katherine. He is a contract worker who was undertaking work at the RAAF Base Tindal, which is located 15 kilometres outside of Katherine. The Chief Minister said the man received a “strong positive” test result.
“The man has not travelled outside of the Territory recently. That means he caught the virus inside the Territory,” said Mr Gunner.
The man is believed to have been infectious in the community between Sunday October 31 and Tuesday November 2 prior to beginning his isolation period. Five exposure sites have been named but more may come.
Residents of Katherine (population approximately 6,000) will only be permitted to leave their homes for essential purposes such as to receive medical care, obtain essential items or undertake essential work. All residents will need to wear a face mask while outside the home.
The Greater Darwin Region will enter a 72-hour lockout period. Due to high vaccination rates among the Darwin community, those who are fully vaccinated are permitted to go about their lives normally provided they wear a face mask. Those who are not yet vaccinated will need to stay home except for essential reasons until the lockout period ends.
Schools will remain open in the Greater Darwin Region. Children aged 16 and under will be treated the same as fully vaccinated residents. While unvaccinated parents will be permitted to drop their children off at school or childcare, they cannot enter the grounds. Breaches will lead to a $5,000 fine.
Mr Gunner encourages Northern Territory residents to get vaccinated to protect themselves from future transmission.
“This is another reminder that we didn’t want that the Territory is absolutely vulnerable to COVID-19, and it’s a reminder that you don’t have to go interstate to get it, you don’t have to be a frontline worker to get it,” he explained at the press conference.
“It’s here. Anyone can get it. You can get it,” said Mr Gunner.
A second positive case has since been announced. The case is a household contact of the unvaccinated man in his 20’s.
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