New positive COVID-19 cases in remote community, Katherine

by | Nov 15, 2021 | COVID-19, News | 0 comments

The NT has recorded its first positive case of COVID-19 in a remote community, with two new positive cases reported – one in a man from Katherine, and the other case in a woman who was also in the remote Indigenous community of Robinson River near Borroloola.

Both Katherine and Robinson River were forced into a 72-hour lockdown from 6pm Monday.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner has told a press conference the 43-year-old double-vaccinated Indigenous man from Katherine, had shared a house with seven others in Katherine East. Mr Gunner said he had an underlying health condition.

The man spent time in Robinson River, Mr Gunner said, and had returned a negative COVID-19 test on November 9, but was tested again on Saturday with a positive result coming back today.

Mr Gunner said health officials were treating the man as if he had been infectious since November 10 and that the announcement of the two cases was “undoubtedly the most serious update” related to COVID in the NT due to the cases involving a remote community.

He said an Indigenous woman in her 30s who shared a house with the man (but it was not disclosed where they shared a house), also tested positive, and had flown into Robinson River on November 11 where she lived. Mr Gunner said she was symptomatic and went to the clinic to get a test today and returned an initial positive result. He did not say where she had flown from but they were treating her as being positive in Robinson River from November 11.

Mr Gunner said it was likely, but not confirmed, they were linked to the recent COVID-19 cases in Katherine and Darwin.

“The length of time between cases in Katherine and the lack of a clear link means there may be seeding in Katherine,” he said.

He said both Katherine and Robinson River would go into a 72-hour lockdown from 6pm. With a health team of eight deployed to the remote community to help manage the situation.

New cases possibly linked to October 29 source case that shut Katherine and Darwin down

At midnight on November 4, Katherine went into lockdown and Darwin, Palmerston, and the rural area a lockout after a unvaccinated RAAF Tindal base contractor tested positive to COVID-19 in the community.

The man shared a house with five people in Katherine and also shared a house in Humpty Doo, a source had told the NT Independent.

The next day one of his close contacts was confirmed as having tested positive to COVID-19 in Katherine.

A 21-year-old woman from Cairns became the next person to test positive and was later identified as the source of the outbreak.

She became a focus of media reporting after an embarrassing Facebook post by Chief Minister Michael Gunner that referred to her as a sex worker. The post was later deleted and replaced. The government said it contained a factual error but did not say what the error was.

The woman, who had lied about where she had been before entering the Territory and kicking off the lockdown and lockout, said she was not a sex worker.

Later, another housemate of the man tested positive.

Michael Gunner told a press conference on Saturday morning the 21-year-old woman was a close contact of the index case, she flew into the Territory last Friday from Cairns, and tested positive to COVID-19 last night. He said she was now in the Howard Springs quarantine facility and is the third person to test positive since Thursday.

Darwin’s lockout was lifted last Tuesday with a mask mandate staying in place until Friday afternoon.

Under the newly announced lockdown for Katherine and Robinson River, all residents will only b epermitted to leave their home for the following: a medical appointment or a COVID test or vaccination; to buy essential goods; for one hour’s exercise no more than 5km from a person’s home; for essential work; and to look after a family member who needs care.

People are required to wear masks when they are outside.

Mr Gunner pleaded with residents in both places to get COVID-19 tests.

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