Northern Territory has registered three new cases of COVID-19, says Prime Minister Michael Gunner.
Two of them were flight crew members from a recent flight from London.
The third case is an infant from Binjari who has been in quarantine with the family in Howard Springs throughout their infectious period.
All three positive cases are now at the Howard Springs quarantine facility.
The territory’s cluster now stands at 59 cases.
Robinson River would leave the lockout today at 6 p.m., said Mr. Gunner.
NT health authorities have conducted more than 700 tests of residents of Lajamanu, including 243 yesterday.
“We will get the results back for these tonight,” Mr Gunner said.
“All the other tests have come back negative. The wastewater has also come back negative, so it looks like Lajamanu is at liberty.”
Lajamanu will now go from a lockdown to a lockout from noon, allowing vaccinated residents to move around the community while staying in the community.
If all the outstanding COVID test results come back negative tonight, Lajamanu is likely to leave the lockout tomorrow, Mr Gunner said.
Three teens identified as Howard Springs quarantine escapes
Sir. Gunner said three teens who escaped the Howard Springs quarantine facility this morning were in close contact with the Binjari cases outside of Katherine.
The teenagers aged 15, 16 and 17 tested negative for COVID-19 yesterday.
“But there is absolutely no excuse for these sixty acts this morning.”
NT Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker said police used CCTV to identify what clothes the displaced were wearing when they shot over the fence and escaped the facility.
“We found these people a short time ago in Palmerston, on the outskirts,” he said.
“They saw the police and obviously knew we were looking for them and they chose to try to escape, but we went into the bush and found them.”
All three have been returned to the Howard Springs quarantine facility, he said.
Commissioner Chalker said it appeared the trio had no contact with anyone else after they fled, but police would conduct a full investigation into their movements.
“These are young people,” he said.
“Moving from remote communities where overcrowding is very present to be located in a single room and the isolation they feel, we think, is something of an indication [as to why they escaped]. “
Commissioner Chalker said it was likely teens would be fined a standard $ 5,024 for violating Chief Health Officers’ instructions.
Given the recent jump in people fleeing Howard Springs, he said police would install additional mobile CCTV cameras around the center.
“It is a 165 hectare large [66 hectares] the site, the Howard Springs facility. It’s a huge footprint, “he said.
He said the CCTV cameras were part of a plan to ensure there was “stronger visible deterrence”.
“But more importantly, the moment we see someone from the perimeter of where the actual accommodations are, we can move faster to get to them,” he said.
“So we are strengthening external security to provide further assistance to it – as I say, [with] increased CCTV, which ensures that it is actively monitored 24/7, so the moment we see any movement, we can try to respond and keep everyone within the perimeter. “
Sir. Gunner said the facility “was not a prison, but it is not a playground either.”
“People are in there either because they are positive for COVID or they have a high risk of being positive for COVID,” he said.
He said the “overwhelming majority” of people associated with the Katherine eruption had complied with the COVID-19 guidelines, and he thanked the Binjari community.
Sir. Gunner said Katherine now had a double-dose vaccination rate of 81 percent.
“Congratulations Katherine. That means shutdowns are less likely in the future,” he said.
“It also means that Katherine is now a high-vaccination zone and it can be used as a place of home quarantine.”
However, COVID-positive wastewater has again been found in the catchment area of Katherine Bicentennial Road.
“We have to keep investigating it, and that’s a concern,” Mr Gunner said.
Commissioner Chalker said 66 people from Robinson River, who were currently at the Howard Springs quarantine facility, would return today.
Another eight people will return tomorrow.
He said police would still be on the ground at Robinson River, helping residents adjust and recover from their COVID experience.
A COVID patient – an elderly woman – remains at Royal Darwin Hospital, said acting Chief Health Officer Charles Pain.
She is not on intensive care but still needs oxygen from time to time, he said.
Testing of the Omicron variant continues
Dr. Pain said authorities were conducting genomic tests to see if the two infected flight crew members on a recent flight from London had the new Omicron variant of concern.
He said all 19 other passengers on a recent flight from Johannesburg to Darwin, where a passenger was later found to be carrying the new Omicron variant of concern, have so far returned negative coronavirus tests.
He said the Omicron-positive man, who is currently in quarantine in Howard Springs, was fully vaccinated and was asymptomatic.
“If there were strong signs [Omicron] were more virulent, I think we would see them now, “he said.
“But still, we can not really form that perception yet.”