The NT government’s COVID Media has not provided details about the control of airline passengers on 20 to 30 flights a day who arrived in Alice Springs in the last week, while self quarantine has still been permitted, with supervised quarantine for people from hotspots only required from Friday, 17 July.
This comes as significant outbreaks are occurring in Victoria, and with the entire state, from 17 July, considered a hotspot by the NT.
The flights to Alice Springs could well have had passengers on board directly or indirectly from Victoria, yet there is anecdotal evidence that control of the arriving passengers was inadequate or absent.
We asked COVID Media yesterday at 2:32pm: In the past seven days, how many Federal, NT Police, Environmental Health Officers or other NTG staff were at the Alice Springs airport to meet passengers disembarking from interstate flights?
How many passengers did they speak to about self quarantine? On how many occasions was that information checked out by visits to nominated quarantine locations?
The information requested has not been provided. We will report it as an update if we receive it.
The current position is absurd: The government clearly has the view that supervised quarantine (at a cost of $2500 per person, charged to the person) is required because it is introducing it at the end of this week.
So why was that measure not brought forward as the situation in Victoria deteriorated sharply?
We will consider ourselves very lucky if an outbreak in the NT does not occur within the coming fortnight.
There would be few administrations around the world treating its people with so little respect. Most take the view that openness about control measures is fundamental for them to be obeyed.
And that does not mean daily monologues and chest beating by the Chief Minister and the Health Minister. It means answering questions put in the public interest.
Meanwhile Territory Alliance Leader Terry Mills is demanding that travellers from New South Wales and ACT be subject to the same strict quarantine conditions as will apply to those from Victoria when the borders open on Friday.
“We have the lowest per capita testing in the nation and that’s just not good enough,” he says.
“The Gunner arbitrary date of July 17 was becoming a farce and is significantly increasing community anxiety.
“We should require any traveller from a State or Territory with COVID-19 cases to take a test prior to visiting the Territory.
“Only those with a negative test should be allowed in. Travellers from those states should then take another COVID-19 test prior to being able to move throughout our community,” says Mr Mills.
In May last year we had 45,900 passengers. This year we had 3,500 passengers – a drop of 96.3%, according to airport manager Dave Batic: “April, May and June have been the same. July is tracking slightly higher at about 4,500 passengers compared to 58,000 last year.
“June is end of year results which we have not received yet.”
He says Virgin commences flights on Monday, July 20.
UPDATE 2pm from Secure NT: “The Alice Springs Airport is staffed appropriately to meet interstate arrivals.” No further details given.