Remote community in Northern Territory locked down after COVID detected in wastewater

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Another isolated town in the Northern Territory has been forced into lockdown after traces of Covid were detected in wastewater.

Health authorities swarmed into Lajamanu and its surrounding area overnight, cutting the remote community off from the outside world.

There were no reports of Covid symptoms or active cases at the time of reporting.

Lajamanu is situated 560km southwest from Katherine – the town where Aboriginal people were controversially evacuated from crowded housing conditions and placed under mandatory quarantine at the Howard Springs facility last week.

The population of Lajamanu has a low vaccination rate (60%), prompting the Northern Territory’s Chief Minister, Michael Gunner, to order the town into lockdown.

“Anyone who has left Lajamanu since the 15th of November is required to isolate, get tested, and stay isolated until you receive a negative test result.

“Local health staff and police are already working with community members in Lajamanu and have begun testing overnight.

“A Rapid Assessment Team will be on the ground from about midnight to support the community.

“We need the whole mob in Lajamanu to stay safe by staying at home, wearing your mask, taking a Covid test and getting your vaccine.

“We are sending more resources to Lajamanu to help you. Don’t worry, we will make sure you have everything you need.

“We have asked the Federal Government to enact a biosecurity zone to help control travel in and out of the community.”

All 600+ people in Lajamanu must remain in their homes unless engaging in one of the five allowed exclusions to health orders. According to a 2006 census, 92% of residents identify as Aboriginal.

Members of the ADF continue to support the Northern Territory government as they move through remote communities with an intensive vaccination program.

There have been no deaths in the Northern Territory so far this year and only a handful of cases.

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