NT News

Restrictio­ns in Darwin and Katherine eased as southern state numbers skyrocket

- JUDITH AISTHORPE

THE masks are off, vertical consumptio­n is on and Top Enders are again rejoicing as Covid-19 restrictio­ns have been eased again.

Health Minister Natasha Fyles said there had been no new Covid-19 cases detected and wastewater testing in both Darwin and Katherine had produced negative results, after an American man tested positive on his day 17 after arriving in Australia from the US. He had quarantine­d in a Sydney hotel for two weeks before flying to Darwin, via Canberra, on August 12. He then got tested on August 15 and drove down to Katherine for work.

His positive result plunged Darwin and Katherine into three and four day lockdowns respective­ly.

But now, one full replicatio­n cycle of the virus later, the Top End has ended all Covid-19 restrictio­ns, including limits on the number of visitors to households and wearing masks in places like supermarke­ts and cafes.

Gyms also remained closed and indoor activities such as yoga and pilates were banned.

“So the restrictio­ns will lift at midday today (Thursday), but it is a really strong reminder for Territoria­ns to please keep a mask handy, even though you don’t have to wear one by the CHO’s directions,” Ms Fyles said.

“If you are in a situation where you feel wearing a mask would be helpful, please do so.”

Ms Fyles also urged people to continue to check-in when heading out.

“We’ve seen over 14 million check-ins in the Northern Territory,” she said.

“We had a record day last week with over 260,000 check-ins using the QR code, and it showed in our most recent lockdown that was a really important tool to our contact tracers,” she said.

The vaccine rollout has been expanded to include all children in the NT aged 12 and older, with schools to begin to play a vital role in aiding the roll out.

It comes as a grim new Covid-19 Australian record was hit in New South Wales on Thursday, with the southern state recording 1029 new cases and three deaths.

Despite the spike in infections, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklia­n announced a raft of restrictio­ns that would ease for vaccinated residents surroundin­g outdoor gatherings.

They will come into effect on September 13.

In Victoria, 80 new cases of Covid-19 were detected on Thursday a jump up from Wednesday’s 45 cases.

Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton said three out of four cases of transmissi­on had been occurring in people without symptoms or before symptoms had developed.

“We know it moves very fast. We know it causes really significan­t illness,” he said.

“What’s become apparent in recent weeks is that maybe three-quarters of transmissi­on with the Delta variant occurs without symptoms or before you’ve developed symptoms.

“So it is really critically important as well to minimise contact, to not go out if you don’t have to and to absolutely wear a mask and maintain social distancing in all the circumstan­ces that you can.”

In Victoria, desperate young people waiting hours at mass vaccinatio­n hubs in Melbourne were turned away in droves, as demand for the Pfizer jab soared.

It comes just one day after the state expanded its bookings for the 16-39 age group, with a reported 100,000 young Victorians booking in for the jab on Wednesday alone.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews also flagged priority jabs for older school students to help get them vaccinated before exams.

Victorian Year 12 VCE students will be given priority access for the Pfizer vaccine, with the intent to inoculate the entire cohort before they begin exams in October.

In the ACT as of Thursday there were 190 active cases, with 14 of those recorded in the 24 hours prior.

In Queensland, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced a 1000-bed quarantine hub would be built near Toowoomba.

Constructi­on for the facility began on Thursday.

It comes after an agreement was struck with John Wagner and the Wagner family, which owns the nearby Wellcamp airport.

Wagner Corporatio­n will build the facility, with the accommodat­ion modules to be manufactur­ed in Queensland. The Queensland Government will operate the facility once it is up and running.

KEEP A MASK HANDY, EVEN THOUGH YOU DON’T HAVE TO WEAR ONE BY THE CHO’S DIRECTIONS

NATASHA FYLES

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