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One new COVID-19 case in NT as lockdowns in Darwin and Alice Springs continue

The Northern Territory has recorded one new case of COVID-19 following an outbreak that started in a central Australian mine.

A worker at Newmont’s Granites Mine, near Alice Springs, tested positive to the Delta variant of the virus overnight after travelling to Darwin on Friday.

He was a close contact of the first case, who tested positive to the Delta variant on Saturday after arriving at the mine on 18 June.

The new case was in quarantine at Darwin’s Centre for National Resilience at Howard Springs when he was diagnosed.

“[This is] proof swift action has kept this virus trapped,” Chief Minister Michael Gunner told reporters Thursday.

“With the Delta strain, we can not rely on the first test to give us comfort but there is no reason to believe he was infectious during this limited time in the community.”

It comes as Alice Springs entered its first full day of lockdown on Thursday.

More than 25,000 people were ordered to stay at home for 72 hours from 1pm local time on Wednesday.

The health direction applied to everyone inside the Alice Springs town council boundary, including hundreds of Indigenous Australians living in camps.

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Gunner voiced concern about vaccination rates in the NT’s remote and vulnerable communities.

“The vulnerability of our population worries me a lot,” he told the ABC.

The crisis started on Saturday when a young Victorian man, who travelled to the mine on 18 June via a Brisbane quarantine hotel, tested positive for the virus.

More than 700 miners were immediately ordered to isolate in at the mine as authorities scrambled to track about 800 more who had flown to their homes around Australia after the infected miner arrived.

There are 16 cases linked to the outbreak.

Two infected workers were diagnosed at the mine and evacuated to the Howard Springs facility.

Another mine worker, who had travelled to NSW, was found to be positive for the virus, as were two co-workers who travelled to Queensland, along with a close contact of one of them.

A Darwin man in his 50s, who left the mine on Friday, also returned a positive test. He travelled to multiple venues, including Darwin’s Buff Club, for more than four hours before being ordered to quarantine.

Another mine worker and his wife and daughter also tested positive after the mine worker had travelled to their family home in Palmerston, 20km south of Darwin.

They were quarantined at the Howard Springs facility when diagnosed.

Darwin and its surrounding areas have been in lockdown since Sunday, with hopes restrictions will end on Friday after wastewater testing found no evidence of COVID-19 in the community.

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