No new cases of COVID-19 in more than a week, businesses to stay shut as testing questions raised

by | Apr 14, 2020 | COVID-19, News | 0 comments

The NT Government has not reported a positive case of coronavirus in more than a week, but questions have been raised over the rate of testing in the Northern Territory.

The government claims as of Monday at 4pm that 3258 COVID-19 tests have been conducted in the Territory, with the number only increasing by just over 1100 since March 31.

Other states, such as Victoria, announced they are widening their coronavirus testing to include anyone with symptoms such as a fever or respiratory issues.

Victoria’s Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said while their focus was on return travelers, they now “want to make sure we track down every case of the virus”.

NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles said at a press conference on Tuesday that the decision on who to test in the NT was a “clinical decision” and that with less people coming to the Territory, there were no plans to increase testing.

“Our clinicians will make a decision on who is tested based on the evidence of each patient before them,” she said.

When asked how the government can be certain there is no community transmission occurring, Ms Fyles reiterated that the decision to test is left to health staff.

“We have not seen the cases in the NT that suggest community transmission,” she said. “We’ve had no diagnosed community transmission cases. All 28 cases in the NT, we know the origin of the original case.

“That informs the decisions we are making.”

According to government figures, 76 people came to the Territory by air last Friday and Saturday. A further 17 arrived via the highway over the same two days.

The government reports there have been 28 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the NT, with six recovered.

The World Health Organisation has previously said that “aggressive testing” is crucial to prevent infections and save lives. The key to South Korea’s success at fighting the disease was the speed and early push towards mass testing, contact tracing and mandatory quarantine.

Meanwhile, Ms Fyles said there were no immediate plans to lift any restrictions, after the Chamber of Commerce NT requested that some restrictions on business be lifted in the coming weeks.

“What we’ve seen overseas is that when you remove a measure, you see a correlation with the statistics going up and we can’t afford to have that in the Northern Territory,” she said.

“We certainly acknowledge the businesses, many Territorians are going through tough times – tough economic times and tough times personally. But now is not the time to lift the measures and now is not the time to talk about and give that false sense of hope. This is here for a long time.

“We’re listening to the health professionals.”

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