News Coronavirus Virus found in outback NT desert community

Virus found in outback NT desert community

NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles says an unvaccinated woman is fighting for her life in hospital. Photo: AAP
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The pandemic has reached another remote Northern Territory Indigenous community, with a COVID-19 infection confirmed in the Tanami Desert.

The new case is a 45-year-old fully-vaccinated man from Lajamanu, about 900km northwest of Alice Springs, near the Western Australia border.

It brings the current cluster to 60 cases.

“This isn’t the best news,” Health Minister Natasha Fyles told reporters on Thursday.

“We were hoping there were no cases in Lajamanu”.

The community of about 600 people was locked down on November 27 after the virus was detected in wastewater sampling.

It was relaxed to a lockout on Wednesday after days of testing.

The man and 13 close contacts will be transferred 900km north to The Centre of National Resilience quarantine facility, near Darwin.

The outbreak started when an infected woman illegally entered the NT in late October.

The 21-year-old lied on her border entry form before travelling from Cairns to Darwin after visiting Victoria, where she contracted the virus.

She infected a man in Darwin before the virus spread to Katherine, then the Aboriginal communities of Robinson River and Binjari, and now Lajamanu.

Ms Fyles said the man’s viral load was low, which could mean he had recently acquired the virus or was recovering from the infection.

“It is concerning that we have a positive case in a remote NT community,” she said.

“But, we very much feel we have the situation under control.”

Meanwhile, testing in the Top End Aboriginal community of Binjari, 330km south of Darwin, has returned negative results and a hard lockdown has been eased to a normal lockdown.

Genomic testing has found one of two infected Qantas crew members quarantined at the Centre for National Resilience after arriving on a flight from London has the Delta variant, not Omicron as feared.

Authorities are waiting for the results of the second person’s test.