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HomeIssue 1NT has Australia's "weakest COVID restrictions"

NT has Australia’s “weakest COVID restrictions”

By ERWIN CHLANDA

The NT has the weakest COVID restrictions in Australia and its most vulnerable population “at the very time when risk has escalated with the potential spread of the more-contagious UK variant,” according to Associate Professor John Boffa (pictured) of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance.

He says the NT Chief Health Officer, who “has placed our population at unnecessary risk,” should immediately re-declare greater Sydney as a hotspot.

“The NT has done very well up to now in the pandemic but given recent decisions by our Chief Health Officer it is only a matter of time before we get an unexpected case in the community.

“The decision to revoke the hotspot status of greater Sydney on 12 January, the day after a mystery case was declared in Sydney’s western suburbs, is not consistent with reasonable public health practice.

“It is also not a decision that any other jurisdiction apart from the ACT has made. All Australian states still classify greater Sydney as a hotspot or red zone,” says Dr Boffa in a statement.

“There have now been a total of 14 mystery cases in greater Sydney since the Northern Beaches outbreak started, and two more cases were declared on the same day that the Northern Territory decided that greater Sydney is now safe.

“Most public health experts recommend waiting two cycles or 28 days after a mystery case before declaring an area safe and yet we have done this on the very day new mystery cases were declared.

“It is not possible at this stage to pick a few suburbs and be confident that the rest of Sydney is safe.

“We have the most vulnerable population in Australia and should not be trying to push the boundaries in the level of risk we are prepared to tolerate.

“The NT is not as ready as other jurisdictions to cope with an unexpected case as we are not wearing masks in enclosed high-risk locations, we do not have density limits in venues, we are not testing sewage, our capacity to increase testing is limited and routine tests take often three or more days to come back, and we are the only jurisdiction that allows people from hotspots to fly here and go into quarantine – we do not operate a hard border.”

Main photo: Roadblock in March last year when the NT had robust COVID control measures.

 

UPDATE January 14, 4.24pm

Hotel quarantine in Darwin’s CBD is the “weakest link” in in COVID measures and should be stopped immediately, says Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Gerard Maley, in a statement.

“Howard Springs has been identified to accept the bulk of repatriated Australians, and is much more secure than alternative quarantine accommodation,” he says.

“Why are exemptions being granted to ADF personnel?

“The Gunner Government received an additional funding boost from the Feds to ensure Howards Springs is adequately resourced.

“The fact that two people have now tested positive for COVI–19 while in hotel quarantine should be sounding alarms bells.”

5 COMMENTS

  1. In my opinion, the fact that the NT has been very fortunate not to have had many cases is more about good fortune than good management.
    I still fail to understand why they are allowing people into Howard Springs at all.
    When the virus goes public, the government won’t know what hit them and the vulnerable people will suffer.

  2. There is a lot of fear mongering in this article but not much hard facts.
    NSW has a population of 7.54m.
    Sydney has a population of 5.23m.
    Year ending June 2020, 167,000 visitors from NSW visited the NT.
    This equates to 115,000 Sydney visitors. Half of last year was with COVID, half with out, so at this point in time, our average intake of Sydney visitors per year is (approximately) say 75,000 or 1400 per week.
    In the last week NSW (let’s just be generous to you and call them all Sydney) had 15 cases out of 5.23m. That is to say one positive case in that week per 348,666 Sydney residents. Out of those 348,666 Sydney residents we will attract 93 of to the NT in any given week.
    Unmitigated, there is the chance that one Covid positive person from Sydney will enter the NT every 72 years.
    Of course, these risks are not unmitigated! So the likelihood of occurrence is even less.
    How do you determine “unnecessary risk”?
    Why is it up to bureaucrats to mitigate these risks? People have lives to live, families to feed and god given freedoms to enjoy. Life is full of risks, and the one described above is about as small as any you will encounter in life.
    The NT Government has done very little right in the last four years, but on this occasion, this call is correct.

  3. Is that the same medical professional who has introduced, promoted and championed the most draconian alcohol restrictions in the known universe with his group “Patronising Alice’s Alcohol Consumption” I think they are called that.
    A group so successful that every year since their “well meaning” interventions we have seen an increase in alcohol related crime.
    The massive overreaction to the “outbreak” of one case in Brisbane by the NT was laughable and now Dr “we’ll all be doomed” wants to continue with the practice by closing our border to Sydney [effectively all of NSW]. Well at least it’s consistent with his other Blurred Crusade.

  4. @ Surprised: Yes I have heard stories direct from those who had quarantined at the Howard Springs that they were allowed to roam around the village there without masks.
    That is something that’s a definite forbidden at any quarantine hotel. Personally I would be scared to leave the NT and return only to be told to quarantine at Howard Springs.

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