Repatriated Australians in the Northern Territory who were in interstate hotel quarantine must now be retested for COVID-19 after leaving the facility.
There are fears that the new Indian variant of the virus could be spread by returned travelers who have completed their mandatory 14-day quarantine period.
The tests will be required three days after leaving hotel quarantine or on the 17th day when they come to the NT, Prime Minister Michael Gunner told reporters on Monday.
“This is a direction that will reduce the risk for Territories from interstate hotel quarantine,” he said.
“I admit it will be an inconvenience, but we have always said we will do everything we can to keep the Territories safe.”
People who arrive in the NT after the 17th day but before the 28th day since entering the quarantine must continue to perform a test.
“This new direction will protect us from the exact scenario we saw when Melbourne was suspended again,” he said.
“This outbreak started with a returned international traveler who completed his 14-day quarantine in South Australia and then returned a negative test.”
Travelers arriving in the NT shortly after the interstate quarantine will be retested for coronavirus. Credit: AAP
Acting Chief Medical Officer Charles Pain urged the Territories to get vaccinated to protect themselves and the community.
Meanwhile, two sisters have allegedly escaped a quarantine facility in Alice Springs by climbing the perimeter fence and jumping into a waiting vehicle.
The women, ages 19 and 22, were then driven to their mother’s house, who later reported them to Northern Territory police.
The women returned to quarantine accompanied by their mother and one of their friends, said a police spokeswoman.
One of the women was not cooperative when she was told she had to return to the Todd facility but eventually did.
Two sisters were reported to police after escaping from a COVID quarantine facility in Alice Springs. Credit: AAP
Both the mother and boyfriend were put into mandatory supervised quarantine by the NT Chief Health Officer.
“It is incredible that after all this time of deaths and bans, people are still not taking this pandemic seriously,” said Commander Sachin Sharma.
The investigation is ongoing and there are likely to be violations.
The NT penalty for non-compliance with the CHO’s instructions is US $ 5056 for an individual and US $ 25,280 for a company.