NT coronavirus cases rise to eight as Parap Markets, prison visits cancelled


March 26, 2020 12:36:12

A Darwin couple in their 70s have tested positive for coronavirus after returning from an overseas trip, bringing the Northern Territory’s number of confirmed cases up to eight.

Key points:

  • NT authorities will enforce self-isolation protocols, if needed
  • The number of COVID-19 cases in the NT now stands at eight
  • There are no cases of community transmission as yet in the NT

The pair had followed self-isolation measures after returning from their travel.

They felt unwell two days into their self-isolation and went to Royal Darwin Hospital where they remain.

The NT Health Department’s Chief Medical Officer Hugh Heggie said contact tracing had now begun.

“Those people who came into close contact with someone who has the virus are now in quarantine and they can be in quarantine at home or in their hotel,” he said.

Dr Heggie said NT authorities expected to see more COVID-19 cases emerge in the coming days.

“The bigger problem is people who have a mild illness, they’ve walked through the community and they’ve shed the virus, it’s a very infectious virus,” he said.

“So it makes such a difference to where that virus spreads and that 1.5 metres, if you are closer than that, the rate of infection goes up massively.”

‘We are in a state of emergency’

Dr Heggie said that, if required, NT authorities would detain people who did not comply with self-isolation protocols.

“We are in a state of emergency and in that there are powers that we have to direct people to do things,” he said.

But Dr Heggie said Territorians should be reassured that so far there was no evidence of community transmission in the NT.

“All of the cases that have been diagnosed in the NT have come from elsewhere,” he said.

Your questions on coronavirus answered:

Prison visits to end

NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles said all social visits to prisons would cease today to protect the prison population.

“Visits by key staff such as lawyers will continue for now,” she said.

“Our prisons are open; they will remain open. Coronavirus will not be a get out of jail free card. Our prisons have a pandemic plan.”

Ms Fyles said the NT would not be imposing any further restrictions on the sale of alcohol, or school closures in light of the new cases.

“We have a rapidly evolving emergency. Anything is under consideration but right not there is no active planning to further restrict sales of alcohol,” she said.

“In terms of education, the Chief Minister has made it clear that until the end of term one it is a parent’s choice.”

Territorians who suspected people of not following social-isolation protocols were also encouraged to contact police.

“If you believe someone is doing the wrong thing, reach out to police. There are heavy penalties for people who do the wrong thing,” Ms Fyles said.

Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreak

Parap Market closed for two weeks

Darwin’s Parap Market has also been cancelled for two weeks in light of the growing pandemic.

Kylie McCourt from the Parap Village Traders Association said traders were devastated by the decision but felt that it was the right choice to keep people safe.

“We love our community and we don’t want to put our community staff and stallholders at risk in any way,” she said.

“So we’re following advice from government, the AMA, and the advice that really rings hard for us is stay home and say safe.”

How do I get tested in the NT?

  • If you can’t contact or get to your GP, but you have the symptoms, you should call 1800 008 002
  • This is a dedicated NT-wide coronavirus (COVID-19) number for people who need to arrange testing only
  • If you live in Darwin and need to arrange testing, call the Public Health Unit on 8922 8044
  • Patients who are tested should remain isolated at home until they receive their test results
  • For general advice, Territorians can call 1800 020 080

Latest information from SecureNT website

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First posted

March 26, 2020 12:19:56

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