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The Northern Territory town of Katherine is to be plunged into a 72-hour lockdown after a local Covid case has seen the virus spread to a remote community.
"It's undoubtedly the most serious update I've had to give you since the start of the pandemic because it involves a case in a remote community," Chief Minister Michael Gunner said at press conference on Monday afternoon.
Mr Gunner said an Aboriginal female who has tested positive is believed to have been infectious in the community since November 11 after flying to the remote community of Robinson River.
She is a household contact of the first case, a 43-year-old Aboriginal male. He has been infectious since November 10, health authorities believe.
Mr Gunner said testing in the areas has been too low in recent days and urged residents to come forward.
"It's not the scenario we wanted but we knew this day would come and we have already swung into action to save lives," he said.
Any further cases in Robinson River, with a population of about 300, will be flown to Darwin. The small community will also be placed into lockdown. A rapid assessment team is now en route.
There is no link at this stage between the cases and Greater Darwin's outbreak last week.
Robinson River, about 800km east of Katherine, has a double-dose vaccination rate of 77 per cent.
NT facing 'very challenging time'
The lockdown for Greater Katherine will commence at 6pm (local time) and residents can only leave for medical reasons (including Covid vaccination and testing), essential shopping, work, exercise and care for others.
Acting Chief Health Officer Dr Charles Pain said the territory was now in a "very challenging time".
"There is no question about that. I wouldn't want anyone in the territory to be under any illusions that we are now in a fight to get on top of this," he said.
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