Here’s What We Know About COVID-19 Lockdowns in Katherine and Robinson River
Posted On November 16, 2021
Greater Katherine and the remote community of Robinson River have both entered a three-day lockdown after two people tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday.
The lockdowns, which started at 6pm on Monday, are due to lift at 6pm on Thursday.
One of the new cases — a 30-year-old female resident of Robinson River — is believed to be the first case of COVID-19 in a Northern Territory remote community, which has long been a fear for health experts.
Here’s what we know about the new cases, and the response, so far.
What is known about the two new cases?
The first of the new cases is a 43-year-old Aboriginal man, who is fully vaccinated and has underlying health issues.
He lives in Katherine East, where he resides with seven other people, but he also spends time in the Robinson River community.
The man initially tested negative to COVID-19 on November 9, but was re-tested on November 13 and returned a positive result yesterday.
Health authorities say he may have been infectious since November 10.
The other new case is a 30-year-old Aboriginal woman who is unvaccinated.
She is a Robinson River resident and flew into the community on November 11.
The woman came forward for testing after showing symptoms, and tested positive yesterday.
It’s likely she has been infectious in the Robinson River community since November 11.
She is expected to be flown to Darwin for treatment.
Are new cases connected to last week’s Darwin/ Katherine cluster?
Chief Minister Michael Gunner has said that, while it’s likely the new cases are linked to the recent Darwin/ Katherine cluster, there is a “small possibility” they are unconnected and there has been seeding in Katherine.
That’s because there isn’t yet any clear link between the first case detected yesterday — the 43-year-old man — and previous cases that were part of the cluster.
Authorities are also unsure if they’re related because of the length of time that’s passed between last week’s cases and these ones, as the early cases were not out in the community after November 4.
The Robinson River community and surrounding homeland communities are also in a 72-hour lockdown, as of 6pm yesterday.
An eight-person rapid assessment team, made up of health experts and police officers, has been flown into the community to test, vaccinate and otherwise support residents.
Mr Gunner has said the team is aiming to test every resident within the next few days, and is also bringing extra vaccines so that any community member who wants one can get the jab.
The team is also contacting and offering support to surrounding homeland communities part of the lockdown.
According to NT government figures, Robinson River currently has a first-dose vaccination rate of 77 per cent and full vaccination rate of 60 per cent, both of which are higher than those of some other remote Territory communities.
What about Borroloola?
Borroloola, a large remote community near Robinson River, is not currently in lockdown nor under any restrictions.
Acting Chief Health Officer Charles Pain has said this is because no positive cases have been recorded in the community and movement between it and Robinson River have been limited due to road conditions.
However, Borroloola residents are being urged to stay put in the community for the next three days to help reduce the risk of transmission.
What are the lockdown rules?
Under the lockdown restrictions in Greater Katherine, Robinson River and surrounds, people can only leave their homes for one of five reasons.
These reasons are:
To receive medical treatment, including a COVID-19 test or vaccine
To access essential goods and services
To do essential work that can’t be done from home
To do one hour of outdoor exercise a day, within 5 kilometres from your home, with people from your house or one other person
To provide care and support to a family member or a person who can’t support themselves.
People are not permitted to travel outside of a lockdown area unless they have an exemption.
What are the rules around face masks? Have they changed?