The remote Northern Territory town of Katherine has been ordered into a three day lockdown after two positive Covid cases were uncovered on Monday.
Greater Katherine and the Robinson River surrounds, about a three hour drive south of Darwin, will be plunged into stay at home orders from 6pm on November 15.
There are major concerns for the largely Indigenous community after two positive infections were recorded from just 26 swab tests.
One of the two new positive cases is a 30-year-old Aboriginal woman who lives in Robinson River about 800km from Katherine.
It is believed she has been infectious since November 11.
The woman’s case is the first Covid-19 infection reported in a remote Aboriginal community.
The remote Northern Territory town of Katherine (pictured) has been ordered into a three-day lockdown after two positive Covid cases were uncovered on Monday
A 43-year-old Aboriginal man, who lives with seven others in Katherine East, also tested positive on November 13, just four days after recording a negative result.
Health officials believe the man has possibly been infectious since November 10, spends time in Robinson River, and is a household contact of the woman.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote communities such as Katherine face far greater risks from Covid-19, the Australian government has repeatedly warned throughout the pandemic.
This is because there is less access to medical services coupled with higher rates of underlying health issues.
Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the remote community lockdown was the most serious Covid update he had to give since the beginning of the pandemic.
‘It is not a scenario we wanted, but we knew this day would come,’ Mr Gunner told reporters on Monday. ‘But we are ready for this.’
Alongside the lockdown, health officials have already been deployed to affected areas for a testing and vaccine blitz.
They are also working around the clock to prepare a list of exposure sites.
Chief Minister Michael Gunner said ‘It is not a scenario we wanted, but we knew this day would come’
Mr Gunner said officials were yet to find a clear link between Monday’s cases and previous cases linked to the recent Darwin-Katherine cluster.
‘We have always been concerned for our remote communities, because of their mobility and vulnerability, especially since Delta has emerged,’ he said.
‘This is not a white fella disease, Covid doesn’t discriminate. Get the jab.’
Roughly 350 people live at the Robinson River community, with 77 per cent of those living there fully vaccinated, while 87 per cent have received their first dose.
Health teams are also being sent to nearby remote communities.
Residents in the Katherine region are now only permitted to leave their home for five reasons.
These include medical treatment, grocery shopping, essential work that can’t be done from home, one hour of daily exercise or to provide support for family members.
Greater Katherine and the Robinson River surrounds, about a three-hour drive south of Darwin, will be plunged into stay at home orders from 6pm on November 15
Face masks must be worn at all times outside the home unless undertaking strenuous exercise.
Residents are allowed to exercise outdoors with people from your own household or one other person from a different household within a 5km radius.
Schools will remain open but unvaccinated parents must drop their children at the gate and maintain social distance.
The tough restrictions come after Darwin and Katherine were plunged into short lockdowns earlier this month.
The NT Health department are urging anyone who has come into contact with anyone from the community recently to get tested and self isolated if they feel even the slightest of symptoms.
Australian states and territories are intending to do away with Covid lockdowns when they reach the 80 per cent fully-vaccinated milestone, but many remote communities are still well below this figure.
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