Mystery Covid case triggers 'lockout' in Aussie capital: 'NO IDEA HOW'

·4-min read

A town in the Northern Territory will be waking up to a lockdown on Friday morning, after the region reported its first locally acquired Covid-19 case.

Katherine, 320km south of Darwin, will go into lockdown for 72 hours, starting from midnight on Friday, while Greater Darwin will enter a lockout for the same time period.

The lockdown and lockout comes after a man aged in his 20s in Katherine was diagnosed with Covid-19.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the unvaccinated man had not travelled outside the NT recently and he had contracted Covid-19 locally.

NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner addresses reporters after delivering the Northern Territory's 2021-22 budget to parliament in Darwin, Tuesday, May 4, 2021
A man aged in his 20s has tested positive for Covid in the Northern Territory. Source: AAP Image

"We don't know where and we don't know when but this is community transmission," he told reporters during a late night press conference.

"He has caught it from someone in the territory but we don't know who."

In a press release, the Northern Territory Government said the man lives between Humpty Doo and Katherine where he works at the RAAF Tindal Base and he is not vaccinated.

He was tested for Covid-19 on November 3 and returned a positive test the following day, authorities believe he was infectious in the community between October 31 and November 3.

There are currently five exposure sites, including Monsoons nightclub in Darwin and the RAAF base.

Mr Gunner urged unvaccinated people to get the jab.

"Right now this bloke has no idea how he caught Covid and neither do we," he said.

Katherine enters snap lockdown

Residents in Katherine are only permitted to leave home for five reasons during the 72-hour lockdown.

Those five reasons include leaving the home for medical treatment, including getting a Covid test or vaccination, to acquire essential goods, like groceries or medication and work if it is considered essential.

Katherine will go into lockdown for 72 hours. Source: AAP
Katherine will go into lockdown for 72 hours. Source: AAP

Residents are also permitted to exercise outdoors for one hour a day, within 5km of their home with one other person, or their household.

It is also permitted for residents to provide care or support another person, like a family member, if they cannot support themselves.

People must wear face masks whenever they leave their home.

Lockout in Greater Darwin for unvaccinated people

For fully vaccinated residents in Greater Darwin, they will be able to live normally within the lockout area, while unvaccinated residents will have to stay at home.

Everyone in Greater Darwin will have to wear a face mask outside of their home.

The lockout is applicable for residents in the local government areas of, City of Darwin, City of Palmerston, Litchfield Council, Wagait Shire, Belyuen Shire, Dundee, Bynoe, Charlotte and Cox Peninsula

June 30: People wearing masks on Mindil Beach June 30, 2021 in Darwin, Australia. Lockdown restrictions have been extended by 72 hours for Darwin, Palmerston and Litchfield after new COVID-19 cases were recorded in the Northern Territory and authorities work to identify exposure sites.
A 72-hour lockout has been implemented in the Northern Territory. Source: Getty Images

Unvaccinated people in Greater Darwin are only allowed to leave home for four reasons:

  • Medical treatment, including COVID testing or vaccination

  • For essential goods and services, like groceries and medications

  • For one hour of outdoor exercise a day within 5 km from your home with one other person or people from your house

  • To provide care and support to a family member or person who cannot support themselves.

Unlike people in Katherine, unvaccinated people in Greater Darwin are not permitted to go to work, even if they are an essential worker and they are not allowed to leave the region.

During the next 72-hours, children aged 16-years-old and under will be treated like fully-vaccinated adults and schools will remain open in Greater Darwin.

"Unvaccinated parents are permitted to drop their child off at school or childcare but are not permitted to enter school grounds or childcares centres," the NT Government said.

Drivers lineup for covid testing in their cars at Marrara Sport Complex on June 29, 2021 in Darwin, Australia.
Unvaccinated people in Greater Darwin will have to stay at home for the next 72-hours. Source: Getty Images

Businesses and organisations must ensure employees, customers, visitors and participants are fully vaccinated, however unvaxxed people are allowed to access essential services.

Mr Gunner said the mobile phone app for people to display their certificates wasn't ready as he urged people to be patient and polite.

"This will be clunky over the next few days," he said.

He also warned the region could go into a full lockdown if the situation deteriorated.

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