Sunday, August 1, 2021

The freedom of the press still furnishes that check upon government which no constitution has ever been able to provide – Chicago Tribune.

HomeIssue 20Lock-down wallops tourism

Lock-down wallops tourism

By OSCAR PERRI and ERWIN CHLANDA

The Alice lock-down [now lifted] was hitting the recovering tourist industry hard: One of its main figures, Brendan Heenan, says his MacDonnell Range Caravan Park has had cancellations for 170 vans yesterday and 190 today.

At two people or more per van that means well over 700 people aren’t going to visit Alice.

“The lock-down is completely unnecessary,” says Mr Heenan. “There is no COVID in Alice Springs.”

He says Chief Minister Michael Gunner is “power hungry”.

Meanwhile Woolworths supermarket shelves are mostly full again. Shoppers have clearly stopped panic buying and all of those we observed yesterday were wearing masks.

Mr Gunners says all identified Alice Springs Airport close and casual contacts with the infected miner are in isolation and undergoing testing.

The Tanami mine worker who unknowingly caused the current lockdown had 69 close contacts and a further 52 casual contacts during his seven hour wait at the airport, as contact tracing continues.

“It’s good news so far [for Alice Springs], but the next 24 hours are very important, we want to see more information, test results and wastewater results to give us even more confidence,” Mr Gunner said yesterday.

Police say compliance with the new restrictions in Alice Springs has been good, though a 33-year-old received a fine after refusing to wear a mask.

A new case in Darwin yesterday was another who had been at the Tanami mine site, arriving in Darwin on the 25th before being identified as a close contact and being put into quarantine at Howard Springs the following day.

It was not until a second test was taken that he returned a positive result.

“With the Delta strain we cannot rely on the first test to give us comfort,” Mr Gunner said.

“There is no reason to believe he was infectious in his very limited time in the community, for this reason there are no new exposure sites.”

Mr Gunner is scheduled to make announcements this morning about ending the Darwin lock-down (scheduled today) and Alice (tomorrow).

Though Mr Gunner warns that restrictions will not all be immediately lifted, with some remaining in place as the Territory eases its way out of the situation. Everyone currently in isolation will have to remain so for the full 14 day period.

Meanwhile the COVID staff is declining to answer questions from the Alice Springs News, saying: “Most of your questions have been addressed in the Chief Minister, Chief Health Officer and Territory Controller’s daily press conferences or the press releases on the coronavirus website.”

Both of us (reporter Perri and editor Chlanda) have carefully monitored events and we could find no answers to the following questions we put to COVID about Central Australia (the southern half of the NT including Tennant Creek).

On June 30:

How many people were tested in Central Australia? How many were found to be infected? If any, how many infections were the result of community transmission? How many people in Central Australia had their first jab? How many their second? How many people have the virus in total (since the start of the pandemic)? What should we tell tourists about their stay in Central Australia? (Are they safe; should they turn back? Should they enjoy the region?) Are people coming from Darwin on the day before it was locked down, and since, told to isolate? If not why not?

Yesterday:

The City of Greater Bendigo, the home of the miner worker who inadvertently caused the lock-downs in Alice Springs and Darwin, was a declared a hotspot from May 27 to June 8.
Does the NT government require 14 days quarantine from the last day of a location ceasing to be a hotspot?
How did he get to Brisbane? Via Melbourne airport? What was his route? Did he traverse hotspots?
The mine worker stayed in a quarantine hotel in Brisbane in the night from June 17 to 18. Why? Was it because of the Bendigo hotspot? He contracted COVID there [as it has been the case with quarantine hotels across the nation] and becomes the source of the current outbreak in the NT.
On June 18 the mine worker travelled to the Granites Mine on a Newmont charter flight. Despite his overnight stay in a quarantine hotel he is not required to quarantine for 14 days at his expense when entering the NT. How come?
With respect to the mine worker who on June 25 arrived at the Alice Springs airport via charter plane at 9am and stayed there until 4pm when he boarded a flight to Adelaide, we asked:-
On June 26 he had symptoms, was tested. The result was “not positive” according to the Chief Minister.

On June 30 he was tested again and the test is positive. Alice Springs is locked down.

We put to Covidmedia NT that South Australia has not been locked down although some 30 Granites mine workers returned to that state during the above events (source: InDaily).

How come Alice Springs has to be locked down despite all people who had contact were in a location covered by CCTV (sections of the airport)?

By contrast this is how InDaily described the situation in SA: “The new case arrived in Adelaide at 5pm on Friday on Virgin Flight VA1742, with more than 100 passengers asked to quarantine for 14 days. SA Health has also asked all travellers and visitors at the Adelaide Airport terminal between 5.40pm and 6.30pm on Friday, June 25 to get tested immediately and isolate for 14 days.”

How come it still takes up to 72 hours to get a test result in Alice Springs? 

Why has the sewage testing facility in Alice Springs not been installed much earlier in the 18 months – so far – of the pandemic?

Please describe the negotiations with the military for support with the current COVID initiatives.

We will report Covidmedia’s responses if and when we receive them.

1 COMMENT

  1. Pretty clear the state of the nation at the moment is to push vaccines. From the lockdowns to the PM back onto Astra Zeneca.
    The biggest problem with vaccines, not enough of us have had them.

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