NT Prepares For Spread Of COVID, Wastewater Test Results Despite No New Cases

Although no new cases of COVID have been recorded overnight, health workers and service providers are still bracing for the worsening of the Northern Territory’s most serious outbreak.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner warned that the NT was “not out of the woods” as he confirmed that the total number of cases in the cluster remained at 19.

“The next few days remain crucial,” he said.

“Although expected today, there is always a chance that it will materialize tomorrow.”

Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Barb Shaw said reluctance to get vaccinated in Tennant Creek remains a major concern.(ABC Alice Springs: Samantha Jonscher)

Fears for Tennant Creek

The general manager of the Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation in Tennant Creek, Barb Shaw, said service providers are dealing with the potential spread of COVID-19 in the city urgently.

“It’s not about if, but when,” she said.

“Anyway, the issue is extremely important for this region as we are a low rate region.

Ms Shaw said reluctance to vaccinate in Tennant Creek was still a major problem.

She said statistics from the Barkly area showed 46% of locals had received a dose of the vaccine and only 27% were fully immunized.

“Slow as it is, we are making progress,” Ms. Shaw said.

“But we’re not there.

“We know some [community] the members attended a funeral this weekend in Katherine so we are working very closely with these families.

Ms Shaw said the company had been involved in conversations about whether Tennant Creek Hospital could accommodate an outbreak, and said it was likely any serious case would need to be sent to Darwin for treatment.

A doctor wearing latex gloves holds a COVID-19 antigen test.
New testing requirements for people traveling to remote communities in the Northern Territory will come into effect tomorrow. (Flickr: Marco Verch)

Opening of a rapid test clinic

NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles said the government will open a rapid antigen testing center in Alice Springs by the end of the week.

Beginning Friday, anyone visiting a low immunization rate community of Darwin, Katherine, Alice Springs or outside the Northern Territory will be required to take a test 72 hours before traveling.

Ms Fyles said the Bath Street facility would offer testing for remote workers leaving Alice Springs, but there were other arrangements for remote residents returning home.

“If someone comes to Alice Springs for dialysis treatment or an outpatient appointment, we will arrange that test along with their treatment,” she said.

“It will be a bit of a remote coordination center that will play different roles as we unfortunately see COVID becoming more common in our community.”

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