The NT recorded no new cases of COVID-19 overnight but health officials said it’s still too early to lift lockdowns just yet.
Acting Chief Health Officer Charles Pain said Friday that it was becoming “increasingly likely” authorities had tracked down the main cases in Katherine, particularly in Katherine East.
However, Dr Pain said it’s not indicative that the lockdown will be lifted soon.
“It’s looking very good again today,” he said during a press update.
“No cases, [though] we do need to wait for the results of these tests that were done yesterday, and unfortunately weather did disrupt that.”
Health Minister Natasha Fyles said the Bicentennial Road catchment in Katherine East continues to yield COVID-positive wastewater results. But she said the results were becoming “weaker”.
“Over the next 24 hours, wastewater will be critical around that so that we can assume that it is people that have already tested positive and therefore are being cared for — not cases undetected in the community,” she said.
There are 490 close contacts linked to the cluster, of which 470 are in isolation and 455 have returned negative COVID test results.
Meanwhile, the face mask mandate for the Big Rivers region has been dropped immediately.
Further testing will be conducted in Binjari over the weekend, Ms Fyles said.
She added that government stakeholders will meet over the weekend about lockdown updates.
“These rules are in place to protect you and your community. And it may be frustrating being told that you’ve been tested and you need to stay in isolation,” she said.
Dr Pain added that authorities are expecting more COVID-19 cases from Binjari and the close contacts in the Howard Springs quarantine facility.
The total number of cases from the NT outbreak stands at 52.
Around 300 Covid tests were delayed Thursday night after storms fell between Katherine and Darwin areas, Ms Fyles said.
Ms Fyles said the specimens have arrived in Darwin and are being processed in a laboratory.
Results are expected Friday afternoon.
“We’re processing them as quickly as we can,” she said.
Meanwhile, there’s one COVID patient left at Royal Darwin Hospital who was not requiring oxygen, which was “indicative of the excellent care we’ve been able to provide, Dr Pain said.
Ms Fyles said more than 4,000 Territorians had received their boosters already and also urged eligible people who received their second dose more than six months ago to get their booster shots.