The lockdown for the Greater Darwin region will be lifted at noon, but will remain in place in Katherine for the next 24 hours, the government has said.
The decision to lift the three-day lockdown for Darwin comes after no new cases of COVID-19 being reported over the last 24 hours, Chief Minister Michael Gunner said.
Wastewater results showed a “weak positive” for COVID-19 in Darwin water and a “firm positive” for Katherine, Mr Gunner said.
Health officials remain concerned about the 626 casual contacts in Katherine, the majority of which were from the Katherine Woolworths. Mr Gunner said 272 had returned negative results to date. Twelve people have still not been located.
Mr Gunner apologised to Katherine residents for keeping the lockdown in place until at least noon tomorrow.
“This is the recommendation of our health experts. We need Katherine to hang tight for another day,” he said.
“Given that we know the man was more infectious while in the community, given the higher traffic exposure site in Katherine, given the movement between Katherine and the remote communities, and given the number of tests that we are doing there.”
People in the Greater Darwin area will now be permitted to leave their homes, however masks must be worn if people are unable to physically distance, and at the supermarket.
Schools will reopen tomorrow. Gyms will remain closed. Bars and restaurants will only be able to serve seated patrons and contact sports will remain paused until next week.
Mr Gunner apologised for the short notice to businesses.
“When we have locked down as short as ours, other jurisdictions with lockdowns that last weeks or months had the time to give them more of a heads up,” he said.
“We are in the fortunate position that our lock downs so far have been lightning quick we shut down fast, we open up fast.”
Source of infection ‘remains a mystery’, ‘most unusual case in Australia’: Gunner
Chief Health Officer Hugh Heggie and his team are still trying to determine where and how the index case became infected.
“Right now, the source of the infection remains a mystery is probably one of the most unusual cases we have seen in Australia,” Mr Gunner said.
“We noticed the Delta strain, but we cannot yet link the specific particular strain to any other case, anywhere else in Australia. It will take weeks to solve this mystery.
“Once that mystery is solved, it could have policy implications for the rest of the country.”
Sydney airport and Canberra airport will now be considered hotspots for the purposes of entering the NT, even for people transiting through them.
“This is about plugging any holes in our armour,” Mr Gunner said.