NT records 54 COVID-19 cases, source of three infections in Alice Springs under investigation

The Northern Territory has recorded 54 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, including 21 cases under further investigation by authorities – three of which have been detected in the Alice Springs community. 

Key points:

  • There were five new cases of community transmission, with investigations underway into the source of an additional 21 cases
  • Two cases have been confirmed in Nhulunbuy in north east Arnhem Land
  • Testing numbers were slightly down on the previous reporting period

Six of the new cases are cases of community transmission, according to a statement issued by the NT government this afternoon.

Five were detected in Darwin and one was recorded in Katherine.

Eighteen of the new cases are in interstate arrivals.

They include two cases in Nhulunbuy in north-east Arnhem Land,  in travellers who arrived separately on December 29.

The interstate cases also include two miners from the Granites Gold Mine in the Tanami and one miner from the Gemco mine on Groote Eylandt.

UPDATES: Read our round-up of the latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic

Nine of the new cases are close contacts of previous cases, according to the statement.

Twenty-one are being investigated by authorities to determine their source.

Addressing the media this afternoon, NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles said three of the cases under investigation had been reported from the Alice Springs testing centre.

"We're working through to identify if they are travellers or close contacts or in fact community transmission in Alice Springs," she said.

Ms Fyles is urging people to check the updated list of NT COVID exposure sites.   (ABC News: Che Chorley)

She said there was also "a large number" of close contacts from the community of Elliot near Tennant Creek but no confirmed cases from the community.

The NT government's coronavirus website has been updated to include new COVID exposure sites.

Ms Fyles said the public should expect to see a "significant number" of sites.

There are currently 21 people in NT hospitals.

Eleven of those are in Alice Springs, while eight are in Tennant Creek, one is in Katherine and one is in Darwin.

None are in intensive care. 

Read more about the spread of COVID-19:

Saturday's daily case total was lower than the record 60 cases reported by NT authorities on Friday.

But there were also fewer tests conducted, with 2,757 tests in the latest reporting period compared to 2,690 the day before.

A Territory-wide mask mandate was introduced in the NT on Friday, as Territorians gathered to celebrate New Year's Eve, in response to the record numbers.

The mandate requires people to wear masks in indoor public places, including in pubs, clubs, restaurants, shopping centres and on public transport whenever they are unable to maintain a 1.5m distance from others.

Nhulunbuy, with a population of about 3,200 people, only recorded its first COVID case late on Friday, in a person who arrived in the town on December 29.

Wastewater samples from the town tested positive to COVID last Saturday, prompting more than 900 people to get tested over the past week.

Ms Fyles said the latest round of wastewater from Nhulunbuy had come back negative for COVID.

However, a post on the SecureNT Facebook page late on Saturday said despite the result, authorities were expecting to find more cases in the area.

The first case in the Bagot community was also detected on Friday, marking the first time the virus has entered one of Darwin's Aboriginal communities.

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Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

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