COVID-19 news: Alice Springs woman diagnosed


April 2, 10.30am
An Alice Springs woman who recently returned from the Gold Coast has been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to a media release from SecureNT.
She is in the Alice Springs Hospital after being in self-quarantine since her return.
Under national medical guidelines, contact tracing on her flights is not required due to the delay between her return and becoming unwell.
There have now been 21 cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in the Northern Territory, all acquired interstate or overseas.

March 29, 4.15pm

Staff from the Devil’s Marbles Hotel (pictured), 700 kms north of the SA border, say a car from South Australia, which has entered the NT today, is due this afternoon to spend the night.

The travellers have booked by phone, will not enter the hotel, sleep in the car and leave tomorrow for Darwin.

This is clearly in violation of the requirement for the travellers to spend 14 days in isolation as soon as possible after entering the NT (see comment below dated March 26, 5.50pm).

It means the car will have passed Kulgera, Erldunda and Stuarts Well, have driven through Alice Springs, and passed Aileron, TiTree and Barrow Creek.

The staff says a colleague had seen three SA registered caravans passing yesterday, heading north.

It seems clear Darwin is being accepted as destination for self-quarantine by the control station at the SA border.

The staff also says when they contacted SecureNT they were told that’s OK so long as there is no contact between the staff and the travellers.

There seems to be much confusion, says the staff member.

We are asking SecureNT for comment.
March 28, 12.05pm

“A lot of people are out there who can knock on your door and make sure you are at home. More than police officers.”

This statement from Chief Minister Michael Gunner (below right) at a media conference in Darwin yesterday was to emphasise the surveillance in place of people obliged to self-quarantine for two weeks after entering the NT.

Mr Gunner shared the conference with Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker (below left) who said the Chief Health Officer can appoint authorised officers to assist him: “We are using environmental health officers, and other officers” to carry out compliance checks.

Commissioner Chalker said the Australia Defence Force “may be able to be deployed to assist another officer … just so we don’t get too stretched with our resources.

“If that comes to fruition nobody in the Northern Territory needs to be concerned that we’re going into Martial Law. That’s not the place we’re moving to. We are trying to gain a lot more reassurance through this approach.”

Commissioner Chalker said at about 3pm yesterday the number of people checked stood at “200 in the last two days” and there are “steps to increase that”.

“Fewer than five” had been found to be non-compliant but no infringement notices had been issued.

Commissioner Chalker indicated that is likely to be tightened soon.

Added March 28 at 3.12pm: Mr Gunner also said tomorrow “we are moving from spot-checking to full-scale-checking. Every single person who is required to be in self-quarantine – whether they have come from overseas or interstate – will be checked. And if we need to, you will be directed from your own accommodation and isolated in mandatory controlled quarantine.
March 27, 4.44pm: The two Central Australians testing positive to the COVID-19 virus yesterday were a police officer at Harts Range and his spouse – details Health Minister Natasha Fyles withheld from the public this morning despite intense media questioning. See separate story.
March 27, 12.33 pm:  Testing is being extended to frontline workers – Minister Fyles mentioned police officers, teachers, childcare workers, disability workers – so that they know their status and do not have to self-isolate but can return to work. Presumably health care workers are already being tested.
Police have roadblocks on internal Territory roads (as well as at the borders) in an effort to control internal movements (to and from remote areas).
Repeated questioning by Darwin-based media of Minister for Health Natasha Fyles (pictured), at a press conference this morning, has not revealed whether the Central Australian couple are from Alice Springs and whether they self-isolated in Alice Springs before being tested. 
They returned from overseas (a holiday in Austria), taking Jetstar flight JQ664 from Melbourne to Yulara on March 22, where they picked up their own vehicle, drove to their home – it is not clear where that is – and self-isolated.
Their positive test results were confirmed yesterday and they are now in Alice Springs Hospital.
The Minister was asked repeatedly whether she knew whether their home was in Alice Springs or a remote community.
She repeatedly said she was sharing as much information as she was aware of or was appropriate to share.
March 27, 11.43am:  The Central Australian couple tested positive for COVID-19 are being cared for in Alice Springs. These are therefor the first local cases.
March 27, 10.35am: Response from police to question below
“No arrests have been made.”
March 27, 6.57am: Question to police

How many of the 150 people rioting were arrested? How many have been charged? It appears all violated the COVID-19 rules making each of them liable to a fine of $62,800.
March 27, 5.20am (last update 7.17am): Central Australian couple test positive.
SecureNT says “a couple from Central Australia” have returned positive tests after being overseas. 12 Territorians have now been diagnosed with COVID-19. It is not clear from the release whether the Central Australians are being cared for in Darwin or have come to Alice Springs.
March 26, 5.50pm

The scenario sketched in his Reader Comment by Local1 would be a bit of a stretch.

SecureNT says self-quarantine needs to be “at the nearest available suitable accommodation” and that’s unlikely to be in Darwin if you arrive from South Australia.

There is enough on the form (mobile number, licence plate) to track you down for a spot check.

The rules say: “Accommodation options are available throughout the Territory, with a number of roadhouses and wayside inns offering rooms suitable for self-quarantine purposes.”

To say “I didn’t like the curtains” wouldn’t cut it to relieve you of the maximum $62,800 fine. This is a life and death issue.

“For two full weeks, you will need to stay in accommodation with a bathroom and not leave the room,” say the rules.

“Accommodation providing shared bathroom facilities and/or communal kitchens are not suitable for the purpose of self-isolating.”

And you’re likely to be eating at room service prices: “Under new restrictions, hotels and roadhouses do not have dining facilities available. As part of your self-quarantine measures, you will need to arrange for meals to be delivered to your room if required.”

March 26, 2.24pm
Request to SecureNT for response to comment by Local1.
March 26, 1.45pm: Government urges remote people to go home now.
From midnight tonight people going to designated bush communities will have to self-isolate for 14 days before they can enter, and that includes residents returning.
It is a new Federal Government rule but it is State and Territory governments which will “communicate” the areas where restrictions apply. This has not yet occurred in the NT.
The Governments will support people who do not have appropriate alternate arrangements to self-isolate.
There will be exemptions to the travel restrictions for people entering to supply and deliver essential services.
March 26, 12.52pm: Questions to SecureNT.

Where are the designated areas [see next item] in the southern half of the NT? What support will be provided to people who do not have appropriate alternate arrangements to self-isolate?



  1. The ABC have a very useful website which has the latest virus statistics.
    Our beloved Territory distinguishes itself by being the only jurisdiction which doesn’t release figures re testing : “The NT does not report testing numbers.”
    Reminds me a bit of our Federal Leaders who not all that long used the excuse that “we will not discuss on water matters” to keep us in the dark.
    Also if it wasn’t so terribly serious one would have to laugh about the same leaders having failed to stop the boats.
    Erwin, any luck in locating that Alice Springs testing station?
    [Hi Frank. Not yet. Regards, Erwin.]

  2. Where are the no tax payable organisations / churches / Scientologists / Hillsong etc with the virus from China?
    Churches have expensive buildings and real estate while the poor sleep on the streets.

  3. I am not of the view that fines of $62,800 are currently in place for “social distancing” rules.
    Is this fine not for those who fail to abide to isolation orders etc?
    The individuals should instead be charged with the various crimes committed such as damage to property, failing to follow instruction of police in carrying out lawful duty etc etc.
    This behaviour to our frontline services cannot go without consequence.
    Police, paramedics and taxi drivers should not have to face such terrible behaviour from anyone in community – Corona virus or not.

  4. A tent hospital will have to be erected at the Showgrounds by the army to accommodate the sick, also the race track would also be suitable or the Finke Desert Race start / finish.

  5. All information/warnings/updates are given by electronic media. The people who needs the most to hear it do not go on the internet. We have to put town criers on back of cars with megaphones: isolate/stay home/ wash yours hands etc….A town crier, also called a bellman, is an officer of a royal court or public authority who makes public pronouncements as required.

  6. @ Pseudo Guru. Pseudo: I suggest that you have a tunnel vision view mate.
    Christian churches in Australia have a long history of providing essential aid to the desperate and the needy, from earliest colonial days, long before state governments came to the party.
    Church institutions and congregations have been putting their hands in their pockets to provide orgs such as the Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul, Anglicare etc.
    It is a quid pro quo situation where the states get a huge quid from these volunteer orgs who, if they vacated the welfare sector, would dump an impossible burden on state and fed governments.
    The state and fed governments get the best deal, and they know it.

  7. Hi. Again checked that ABC website which has the latest Australian virus statistics. Latest update 1:56PM today (Friday 27th).
    It still has: “The NT does not report testing numbers.”
    We are still the only jurisdiction that doesn’t.
    Are they trying to hide something?
    We have enough misinformation and false rumours floating about and the only way to suppress these is to tell the truth.
    How many and who and where have tests been done in the NT?
    And please put our editor (Erwin) out of his misery and tell him where he can find the Alice Springs testing station he’s been looking for.

  8. Just been talking on the phone to Aboriginal friends in Alice about the spread of the virus.
    They say (1) while there are fewer people in town, there is no real indication of a coordinated effort to transport people back to their communities.
    (2) Central Lands Council and Centrecorp are showing no leadership, while Tangentyere is trying, offering a bus service with petrol vouchers to help people to get from camps like the one out at the Yuendumu turn-off.
    (3) Tribal people have no idea about washing hands and their movements cannot be monitored, making “self-isolation” a farce. They fear that unless there are immediate public signs of a coordinated town approach that everyone understands, there is a crisis waiting to happen.

  9. So now it’s here! The health department had a duty to warn! Now let’s get the tent hospital ready, we’re going to need it. It will spread like wildfire through vulnerable populations who don’t have any resources to protect themselves.

  10. Gotta get here sometime, the idea is that those that want to panic can lock themselves away, so the rest of us can get on with social distancing and washing our hands.

  11. @ Psuedo Guru: Community clinics are providing hand sanitisers.
    I had a message this morning saying that after a group of mourners had finished shaking hands the clinic nurse made them all clean their hands.

  12. @ Pseudo Guru. Hillsong and Scientology people are in the same virus boat as everyone else, regardless of race, colour, nationality, ethnicity or religion.
    It is not constructive or helpful to take potshots at these people in a a global crisis like this.
    Could even be construed as unnecessarily narky.

  13. The single most important thing now is for the Territory Government to join the rest of the country and implement community testing.
    And tell us the results.

  14. I am concerned that CM Gunner has declared he will not enforce the two person limit.
    Has he not heard of the term Viral Load?
    Your load apparently helps determine whether or not you will survive, should contract the virus … at any age.

  15. Isolating communities is showing some success.
    I have had many queries from remote community friends asking when the road will be open.
    Most are accepting that they should stay in their communities.
    Community clinics are working hard to inform residents.
    Is disobeying the self isolation requirement for returning residents going to undo the good work?

  16. This whole border thing is a joke. We at Kulgera Roadhouse have seen so many people from interstate come through, with most on their way to Darwin, potentially spreading the disease as they go.
    I even asked a couple in a backpacker van where they were going to quarantine.
    They told us they hadn’t decided yet, probably a national park and that they were self contained in their van anyway.
    I asked where their toilet and shower were as clearly they did not have one.
    Their response: “I guess we aren’t self contained.” But were quite happy to continue their travels regardless.
    It seems to me we are ruining the economy only to have the selfish carry on anyway no doubt very happy with the extra money the government is handing out.

  17. I agree with Chris, the border control is a joke.
    The Melbourne to Alice flight on March 22 had a person in it now confirmed with COVIT-19.
    I know of 2two people who were on that flight and went to work and shopping in Alice last week.
    Those people on the flight were contacted over this weekend of March 28 and 29. All people on that flight have now been put into isolation, a week later.
    May God help us all. I will be saying my prayers tonight.
    Keep safe out there, it’s here.

  18. That there is no published response from SecureNT about quarantine is disappointing, particularly with the further restrictions announced today (supervised quarantine at taxpayer expense from Wednesday and at the individual’s expense from Friday).
    But Perrule, it would be surprising if, as you say, ALL on board QF796 on 22/3 were told to quarantine.
    The Australian public health guidelines for COVID-19 are very clear that close contacts for tracing on aircraft are those seated within two rows of a confirmed case.

  19. Yes Dave and I would love to know if the people who flew from Adelaide on Tuesday 31st were told to clean their luggage handle, if the handlers in Perth were told of the dangers of contamination from Adelaide?


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