Region forces unvaccinated into snap lockout after record Covid cases

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·News Reporter
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Unvaccinated Northern Territory residents will spend the weekend in lockdown after recording a new daily coronavirus record with 256 new cases.

A territory-wide lockout of unvaccinated people started at 1pm local time on Thursday as community cases surged.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner told reporters the escalation of case numbers “is concerning”.

"Our community transmission rate has grown in recent days,” he said.

Unvaccinated people will only be able to leave their homes for medical treatment, to buy groceries or to provide care. Unlike previous lockdowns, they will not be allowed outside for exercise. They also cannot travel more than 30km from home unless they require hospitalisation.

Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner address the media at a press conference at NT parliament house, in Darwin.
Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner has announced a snap lockout of the unvaccinated. Source: AAP

Mr Gunner said the increase in cases was a result of New Year's Eve social gatherings with more than 50 per cent of new infections diagnosed in people aged 20 to 39.

Ten of the new cases are known close contacts, 112 remain under investigation and 107 are interstate and international arrivals.

In a bid to flatten the curve, Mr Gunner announced a territory-wide lockout from 1pm on Thursday until noon on Monday when a vaccine-pass system will be introduced.

“We know the unvaccinated are at greatest risk of acute clinical care if they catch Covid,” he said.

Of the 256 cases, two were recorded in Tennant Creek, 510km north of Alice Springs, as the Delta outbreak that started in Darwin in late October continues to grow.

A man in a mask exercise outside in Darwin.
A man in Darwin goes for a stroll while wearing a mask. Source: Getty Images

Eighteen people tested positive in in Yulara, 18km from Uluru, as the virus spreads through the community of about 1000 people.

Twenty-three Covid-19-infected people are in NT hospitals, with eight cases suffering severe symptoms in Royal Darwin Hospital.

Two of those are in intensive care, with one on a ventilator.

The territory recorded 117 new cases on Wednesday and 75 on Tuesday.

More than 84 per cent of the NT's eligible population is fully vaccinated.

with AAP

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