Alice Springs put into 72-hour lockdown after possible airport COVID-19 exposure

by | Jun 30, 2021 | COVID-19, News | 0 comments

Alice Springs will go into a 72-hour lockdown, effective from 1pm today, five days after the NT Government became aware of the COVID-19 outbreak at the Tanami gold mine, and following a mine worker suspected of being infectious spending seven hours at the airport on Friday.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner announced the lockdown this morning at a press conference, saying there had been no new positive cases in the NT in the last 24 hours, but that the lockdown is necessary after a mine worker from the Tanami site suspected to be infectious with coronavirus spent most of the day on Friday at the Alice Springs airport.

“We now need to enact extreme precautionary measures for Alice Springs,” he said.

Mr Gunner said the government now understands that the mine worker had been at the airport between 9am and 3:50pm on Friday.

Once the man returned to his home in Adelaide, he sought to be tested but did not return a positive reading. However, four of his family members have since tested positive and the NT Government now believes he is infectious and was while at the Alice Springs airport. He is also now exhibiting symptoms.

Mr Gunner said the government was unsure if he was infectious while at the airport but are not taking any chances.

The airport is an exposure site, but with varying levels of risk, Mr Gunner said, while health experts review the situation.

The man was at the café and took “several trips to the bathroom”.

Anyone who was at the airport on Friday must stay where they are as the government determines the exposure risk of different areas.

Some could be forced to self-isolate for 14 days and others may be able to get tested and isolate.

The café side is being considered “high-risk” while the “other side” of the airport is considered lower risk at this point. The government is reviewing CCTV footage now to determine the proper level of risk at all areas. The drop off area is considered low-risk.

The government said the man did not leave the airport on Friday.

“I know it is sudden and shocking and I am sorry for that but we cannot wait a minute longer,” Mr Gunner said about the Alice Springs lockdown.

“It is unlikely he was highly infectious during his time at Alice Springs airport, but like all of our other restrictions we will not take a punt on this.”

How the NT COVID outbreak started: Flights to Darwin and Alice Springs from mine site with infected people on board

The outbreak started after an unrestricted flight from the Tanami gold mine in central Australia landed in Darwin on Friday afternoon with at least two people of 70 infected with the Delta strain who were allowed to enter the community with no restrictions.

Another flight landed in Alice Springs on Friday morning with an undisclosed number of mine workers onboard.

On Thursday, a mine worker who had been in a Brisbane quarantine hotel was notified he had been at a high-risk exposure site and isolated on the mine site and was tested.

Before those results were known, the flights left the mine site.

The first man returned a positive result at midnight on Friday, the government has said.

Two of the men onboard the Darwin flight, one a 64-year-old Palmerston man and a Darwin man in his 50s, were later found to have been infected with the highly-infectious Delta variant, after the original infected case was determined to be positive around midnight on Friday.

 

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