Thu. Jun 30th, 2022

The Northern Territory government this week stopped listing COVID-19 exposure sites and told residents they would be updated if there was a major outbreak or super-proliferation event, but not about every single site an infectious person has visited .

NT Health said the policy change was due to the fact that coronavirus is now prevalent in the area.

People still need to check in everywhere they go and will automatically be notified if a positive case has been in the same place at the same time.

The move has made Palmerston’s mother Kristie Bambach insecure.

“The outbreak at the moment here is huge; I can understand why contact trace elements are struggling,” Ms Bambach said.

“But it’s worrying not to have that information.”

Exactly one week ago today, after seeing the number of exposure pages listed online begin to decline, Ms. Bambach launched a Facebook group to share information.

It has already attracted more than 1,200 members.

People wearing face masks walk across a Darwin street.  It's sunny.
The responsibility now lies with individuals to ensure that they check in and remain safe.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

“In the last two days, we’ve just been smashed with requests, and I think it’s because the government does not report exposure sites,” Ms Bambach said.

“It feels really good to be able to calm some people’s nerves instead of letting them wonder.”

Ms Bambach said some people asked for information to be published anonymously on their behalf, but they had to provide evidence to support their claim.

Ms Bambach said some people who made this request had tested positive for COVID-19 and were concerned about potential setbacks or stigma if they used their real names.

She said the group also received tips from employees at workplaces with social media policies that forbade them to share information using their personal account.

A woman is looking seriously at the camera.  She is outside, wearing a green patterned shirt.
Moil mother-of-two Alison Crooks waited 74 hours for her PCR test result.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

Long wait for PCR results

Meanwhile, the waiting time for PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test in NT continues to grow.

Alison Crooks, her husband and their two children waited for more than three days for their PCR results this week.

The family returned from Adelaide late last Wednesday night, and on Saturday Mrs Crooks discovered that her sister was in close contact in a confirmed case of COVID-19.

At home, they performed Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs), all of which yielded negative results, but Mrs. Crook was concerned that the tests on her boys might not be accurate.

“I find them really hard to use with the kids – because they’re five and seven, you actually have to stick it up your nose,” she explained.

A close-up of a person using a rapid antigen test holds a cotton swab in one hand and a dropper bottle over the test in the other.
The Crooks family made RATs at home, but wanted to make sure the result was accurate.(Flickr: Jernej Furman)

For peace of mind, the family booked in for a PCR test at Darwin’s East Arm facility on Sunday morning.

The family was not asked to isolate themselves while waiting for the results, but chose to retire at home instead of risking spreading the virus to others.

They received their negative results on Wednesday afternoon, but Mrs Crooks expressed concern over the long wait.

“It’s way too long,” she said.

Mrs Crooks was concerned that if they tested positive, she would struggle to follow in their footsteps, given how long it had been.

“I do not even remember who we would have seen,” she said.

No COVID press conference Wednesday

MLA, Marie-Clare Boothby, agreed that the waiting times for PCR tests were too long.

“These are families who are quite stressed, these are workers who may not be able to return to work, and of course companies are dependent on them too.”

CLP member Brennan Marie-Clare Boothby looks at the camera in front of Parliament.
CLP’s Marie-Clare Boothby says long waits for PCR test results are unacceptable.(ABC News: Chris Fitzpatrick)

Ms Boothby was critical of yesterday’s COVID-19 update being delivered through a media release in the afternoon where no government minister was available for a press conference.

Wednesday’s update showed that the NT registered 352 cases of COVID-19 in 24 hours, with 28 people in the hospital and one in the intensive care unit.

“It’s just not good enough,” Mrs. Boothby said.

“We definitely need to be clear from the government that they are on the ball right now.”

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