The Northern Territory government insists its health system is prepared for a potential second wave of coronavirus cases, as four defence force members with COVID-19 arrived from overseas.
The four returned from the Middle East on a routine Australian Defence Force flight that landed in Darwin early on Friday morning.
It occurred a day after Chief Minister Michael Gunner laid out his road map for winding back coronavirus restrictions in three stages over five weeks, with all businesses including restaurants, bars, cafes and gyms to reopen.
The NT had recorded no new cases of coronavirus since April 6, with only three of 28 people to test positive still recovering.
There have been no deaths or community transmission, with all cases related to travel, but a second wave of the virus is considered a high risk, especially if restrictions are removed too quickly.
The Australian Defence Force says it decided to test personnel “after being notified that a number of locally engaged contractors had tested positive” but did not say where the officers became infected..
The four were asymptomatic and taken to Royal Darwin Hospital for assessment and placed in isolation.
A number of other people on that flight went into mandatory quarantine, NT Chief Health Officer Dr Hugh Heggie said.
A fifth ADF member who tested positive recently completed their deployment and returned to Australia and is currently in mandatory quarantine in Brisbane.
“Defence will take all necessary measures in consultation with our coalition partners, relevant host nations and Australian federal, state and territory governments to ensure ADF personnel receive the treatment and care required,” the ADF said in a statement.
The public were safe because everyone on that plane that landed on the Friday morning plane was in quarantine and not “walking the streets or in shopping centres”, NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles said.
Ms Fyles said the health department had done acute care scenario testing to prepare for an outbreak of COVID-19, it had a pandemic plan, and a lot had been learnt when repatriated Australians from China and a cruise ship were quarantined in Darwin earlier this year.
NT Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker said Territorians had been wonderful in their compliance with restrictions so far and urged them to remain vigilant and maintain measures, such as physical distancing, with parks starting to open this long weekend.
Australian Associated Press