Howard Springs COVID-19 quarantine facility will process 5,000 Australians returning to this country under a deal between the federal and Territory governments, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said.
Mr Morrison made the announcement at a press conference today in a deal that will see people brought back from London, South Africa and India. He said the agreement would last until March 2021 but could be extended.
Chief Minister Michael Gunner took to Facebook to spruik the deal but there had been on Territory Government press release put out.
“Today the Prime Minister and I have reached an agreement to bring more stranded Australians home by Christmas,” he wrote.
He said the NT will take on around 500 repatriated Australians per fortnight and that they “will be cared for by the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre, who have expertise in managing the return of the Wuhan and Diamond Princess evacuees.”
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has 38,200 Australians who have registered their presence overseas, with 29,100 of those saying they want to come home.
Howard Springs, the former Inpex workers’ camp, was used to house people returning from Wuhan and passengers from the ship the Diamond Princess in Japan in February.
Last week Australian Medical Association NT president Robert Parker called for an urgent review into management of the facilities and their standards after the NT Independent exposed a video showing a group of about 20 people partying in close proximity at the facility, with some ignoring the rule to wear masks.
There about 3,500 beds in Howard Springs but capacity is reduced when people are broken up into different cohorts, Mr Gunner said in an interview with ABC Radio on Monday and has admitted that the biggest limitation on Howard Springs would not be bed numbers but staff.
MORE TO COME.