The Greater Adelaide region will no longer be considered a coronavirus hotspot as of Saturday morning, the NT’s chief health officer has declared, which will mean releasing all travelers who were put in supervised quarantine from the region this week.
The call to originally declare all of South Australia as a hotspot caused many problems for the NT Government and exposed weaknesses in their quarantine preparedness processes this week in Alice Springs.
Chief Minister Michael Gunner first made the announcement that the hotspot status would be lifted for Adelaide and surrounding suburbs via a social media post on Friday afternoon.
“Tomorrow morning, our Chief Health Officer will confirm this advice, and that will mean everyone in quarantine will be able to leave, and those entering the Territory from SA will no longer need to quarantine.
“But before they do leave quarantine, they will have one final check over, as well as a COVID-19 test.”
Shortly after the post, a statement from Hugh Heggie confirmed the government’s plan to revoke the hotspot status that has caused many headaches and embarrassing bungles, with their official explanation for the Alice Springs incident called into question earlier this week.
“Revoking Greater Adelaide as a hotspot is in line with the actions currently being taken in South Australia to ease some restrictions immediately and lift further restrictions by tomorrow night,” Dr Heggie said.
“The decision to go hard and wide early and declare all of South Australia a hotspot was the right one to make to protect the health of Territorians.
“We have put the right mechanisms in place to protect the health and safety of Territorians and to act swiftly should the need occur. Our system is working with no community transmission of COVID-19.”
SA announced on Friday that its hard lockdown measures would be eased as of Saturday night, three days earlier than planned, after discovering one positive case from a pizza restaurant in Adelaide was found to have misled health authorities by telling them he was a customer and not revealing he was an employee who had worked several shifts.
“The decision to revoke Greater Adelaide as a hotspot is based on information from South Australia and a thorough risk assessment which shows minimal risk to the Northern Territory,” Dr Heggie said in a statement.
Those in quarantine from Adelaide will be allowed to leave as of 9am Saturday morning. The government said 1100 people were currently in quarantine in the NT, but did not disclose how many remained from Adelaide.
Officials said it had allowed roughly 130 people to self-isolate at homes in Alice Springs during the week, while eventually flying a further 70 people to the Howard Springs facility after its first arranged charter flight was grounded following a bird strike on Tuesday night.
The government had pledged to pay for return flights to Alice Springs for those taken to Howard Springs, which Health Minister Natasha Fyles said it would honour.
Other travellers from regional SA areas were released earlier this week when the NT Government revised their hotspot status on Wednesday to only include Adelaide and surrounding suburbs.