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Northern Territory moves to calm COVID fears, 594 cases

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The Northern Territory has reported 594 new COVID-19 infections as authorities attempt to calm community fears about the spread and severity of the virus.

Deputy Chief Minister Nicole Manison focused on hospital admissions over case numbers at Tuesday’s daily briefing, saying they remain low.

“There are 32 patients in hospitals across the territory but only 11 of them are classified as acute admissions,” she told reporters. “This represents 0.42% of all active cases, which still remains low.”

Two infected patients are in the territory’s intensive care ward but only one is being treated for virus symptoms. Most patients are understood to be Indigenous and infected with the Delta variant.

Across the NT there are about 2600 active COVID-19 infections, which equates to about 1% of the territory’s population. About 300 of them are in central Australia after 65 people, many in Alice Springs, tested positive overnight. This includes five residents at the Old Timers Village aged care facility.

Ms Manison said the facility’s vaccination rate was high and none of the infected residents were showing symptoms. “The total case count for Alice is in line with the percentage of the territory population,” she said.

“It is not surprising. It is not alarming.”

Ms Manison also urged infected Territorians to use the NT government’s COVID-19 website and online tools to declare they had tested positive after calls to its hotline tripled on Tuesday and wait times “blew out”.

Meanwhile, Yuendumu and Yuelamu, about 295km northwest of Alice Springs, remains in lockout until Saturday with another three people testing positive overnight, which brings the total number of virus infections in low-vaccination Yuendumu to 18.

Extra health staff have been sent to the town to help with virus testing and vaccinations.

“One thing I want to say which was very disappointing was that we only saw 11 vaccinations in t he last 24 hours,” Ms Manison said.

Vaccination rates remain stubbornly low in the town, with only 65% of the 675 residents aged 16 and over electing to have a jab, and just 41% double dosed.

Ms Manison was also forced to clarify confusion about the territory’s day-old vaccine pass. She said only businesses serving alcohol were required to check patrons were vaccinated, not all cafes and restaurants as some media had reported.

It comes as The Tap bar on Darwin’s Mitchell Street nightlife precinct closes its doors due to staff shortages a day after the NT government relaxed quarantine rules for some essential workers but not bar staff.

“We’ve had to close for now. We’ll keep you updated as soon as we can open again in the next coming days,” the proprietors said in a social media post.

The Northern Territory detected 403 new cases on Monday, 481 on Sunday and 594 on Saturday.

 

Original content from AAP News. Note: Content has been edited for style and length.

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