Virus-free area records first case in months after man flies from hotspot

The Northern Territory has recorded its first local case of coronavirus in almost three months.

The infected person is a Darwin man in his 30s who returned to Australia from overseas, via a coronavirus hotspot in Melbourne.

He completed two weeks of quarantine in Melbourne before flying Melbourne-Brisbane, Brisbane-Darwin and arriving in the NT capital on Monday.

Health Minister Natasha Fyles said man had returned from overseas and stayed with family for a couple of days in one of the hotspot locations in Melbourne, which is now in lockdown.

Qantas flight QFA6032 from Japan lands at Darwin International Airport.
The man had returned to Darwin on Monday on a Qantas flight. Source: AAP

“I know Territorians will be anxious and I just want to reassure them that all the precautions have been followed and there's a very low risk to our community,” she told reporters.

Ms Fyles said the man arrived in Darwin on Monday and began feeling unwell. He was tested for coronavirus and the positive result was recorded on Wednesday night.

“This individual has followed all the precautions and we wish [him] all the best,” she said.

“[He’s] now in the care of Royal Darwin Hospital in isolation and I want to reassure the community – there has been minimal contact with the broader community.”

Contact tracing is now underway for people on Qantas flight 836 from Brisbane to Darwin on Monday.

Ms Fyles said it had been a significant period of time since the Northern Territory had any locally diagnosed cases and it was a reminder to Territorians to not become complacent.

“There is no cure, there is no vaccine. In terms of the Northern Territory – Territorians have worked hard and we need to continue to do that,” she said.

“This is not a case of community transmission. It is a returned traveller who has come out of one of those hotspots in Melbourne and returned to Darwin.”

Ms Fyles could not confirm which Melbourne hotspot the man visited, but said Victorian authorities were also looking into the case.

Will the NT close borders to Victoria?

When asked whether the Northern Territory would follow what Queensland and South Australia had done and close borders off to Victoria, Ms Fyles said that would be a “simplistic” response.

“Victoria is a smaller geographical area and I can understand the concerns of Territorians seeing multiple cases each day being [brought] back,” she said.

Healthcare employees are seen at work in a Covid-19 testing facility at Northland shopping centre in Melbourne.
The Northern Territory will not close its borders to Victorians. Source: AAP

“As we step forward in the coming months – We know that COVID’s had a huge impact on people, they can’t travel to see seriously ill family or friends ... you may see outbreaks in states that geographically are a long way from another location where someone may need to travel.

“So we certainly want Territorians to think about their travel. It's not, let's jump on the plane and go away for the weekend. It needs to be important travel.

“And people need to make sure that – we don't have that vaccine – so the steps they take will protect the broader community.”

With AAP

More to come.

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