A remote Indigenous community in the Northern Territory has gone into a hard lockdown after five per cent of its population tested positive for COVID-19 as of last night. For a quick comparison, five per cent of Sydney’s population would roughly be 265,600 people.
On late Saturday night, Chief Minister Michael Gunner revealed that the territory had detected nine new cases in Binjari. According to Census data from 2009, First Nations people make up 100% of its total population. Fuck.
In response to the cases, Gunner announced in a statement last night that Binjari and the neighbouring town of Rockhole would enter a hard lockdown. Residents cannot leave their homes, must stay within their yards, and only leave for medical emergencies. Food and essential items were said to be provided to members of the community last night.
Gunner advised that all members of the community were tested yesterday. Of the nine cases reported, several were from different households.
One of the cases is a 78-year-old woman who is currently being treated in Royal Darwin Hospital while the other eight have been transported to the Howard Springs quarantine centre. These eight cases include a 17-year-old male, an 18-year-old female, a 21-year-old male and a 23-year-old female.
According to SBS, the Australian Defence Force is assisting in transferring those infected and their close contacts to the centre.
A woman also tested positive in Robinson River, a town located 1000km southeast of Darwin. She is believed to be the sixth person in that community to test positive.
This morning, Gunner confirmed that while there hadn’t been any new cases recorded since the nine reported at 9pm last night, more cases are expected to appear in Binjari.
“What has become clear to us based on the level of movement that has been happening in some communities outside of Katherine, is there is a real risk the virus has reached the connected communities further away,” he told reporters via SBS.
“Binjari is a low vaccination community, nine positive cases in one day and one is in hospital.
“Binjari has a smaller population than Robinson River. Please get vaccinated, once you catch the virus that will be too late. We need you to get the vaccine now.”
The two remote communities’ hard lockdown could last for several weeks, according to Gunner. A mask mandate has been issued for neighbouring West local government areas, including Buronga, Daly Waters, Nat Arango and Pine Creek.
When asked about an update regarding cases in the region, a spokesperson for the Northern Territory’s Department of Health advised PEDESTRIAN.TV to the territory’s COVID-19 website. As of publishing, no statement regarding any new cases has been published on that website since the statement made last night.
In August, a man tested positive in the Northern NSW town of Walgett, which has an Indigenous population of 43%.