Fri. Jul 1st, 2022

The lockout in Greater Katherine has been lifted after the Northern Territory registered two COVID-19 cases overnight.

The new cases are the mother of a three-year-old girl from Katherine, who tested positive for COVID on Monday, and an infant who is a household contact with the girl.

Health Minister Natasha Fyles said despite the new cases that lockout restrictions in Katherine, Binjari and Rockhole were lifted at noon today as planned.

A mask mandate will remain in place next week.

Ms Fyles said both COVID cases announced today were tested positive while in quarantine and were therefore “low risk” to society.

The total number of cases in the Katherine region is now 63.

A woman in her 50s died inside the Howard Springs quarantine facility Tuesday night, Ms. Fyles said.

Mrs Fyles said the death was not related to COVID-19.

“Tragically for that family, one person has passed away. We express our sympathy and condolences to her family,” she said.

“Because it was an unexpected death within a government facility, appropriate steps have been taken.”

Mrs Fyles said the forensic pathologist had been notified and that there would be an internal inquiry into the death.

ABC understands that the woman was from a remote Northern Territory community and that her death is not being treated as suspicious.

An aerial photo of the Howard Springs quarantine facility, near Darwin.
The Howard Springs quarantine facility, near Darwin, was the site of a non-covid-related death overnight, Ms. Fyles said.(ABC News: Michael Franchi)

Restrictions extend more than a month

Katherine has been subject to some form of COVID restrictions since the NT outbreak began on November 4, after a 26-year-old man in the region tested positive for the virus.

Binjari and Rockhole, just outside Katherine, were both sent off in a hard lockdown on November 20, with Binjari only transitioning to a regular lockdown last week.

Mrs Fyles thanked the residents of the region for their compliance with the COVID restrictions that had been in place over the last month.

“I know it’s been a long period of time where they’re been in lockdown and lockout,” she said.

“[But] it has certainly been crucial for us to keep this virus as best we can, [by having] the restrictions that were in place and that society complied with. “

She asked residents to be fully vaccinated, be present to test if they felt uncomfortable, and continue to use the Territory check-in app at all places they visited.

Wastewater in Katherine’s Bicentennial Road catchment area is still testing positive for COVID, but Mrs Fyles said the signal strength was weakening.

“We may expect some more positive cases, but them [close contacts] are all in appropriate quarantine, as I understand it, “she said.

Deputy Chief Health Officer Charles Pain said health personnel conducted targeted COVID tests in the Acacia Road area where the three-year-old and her family live, to check for more cases.

“In relation to the community in that area, there is a group of our employees who go door-to-door to encourage people to be tested and of course to be vaccinated,” he said.

“Testing is really important at this stage.

the emergency sign in a hospital is visible through green foliage
Three people who are positive about COVID as part of the local cluster are at Royal Darwin Hospital.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

Ms Fyles said three COVID patients from the NT outbreak were currently being treated at the hospital.

They are the three-year-old girl who tested positive earlier in the week; her mother, who is there as her guardian; and a man in his 50s who was previously on intensive care.

Mrs Fyles said 31 close contacts had been identified from the girl’s case and while 18 test results had been returned, the rest were still being processed.

2,974 COVID tests were performed in the NT over the past 24 hours, including just under 200 in Katherine, Ms. Fyles said.

A total of 216 close contacts have been identified, contacted and isolated, and all but 20 have returned negative tests.

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