NT records zero new local COVID cases as lockout scheduled to lift in Greater Katherine tomorrow

Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner says lockout restrictions will likely lift in Greater Katherine on Wednesday despite a high likelihood more COVID-19 cases will be found in the region in the coming days.Key points:Cases in the current outbreak remain at 61Positive wastewater results are still being returned in KatherineA final decision on Katherine’s lockout will be made on Wednesday morningMr Gunner today announced the NT had recorded no new cases of COVID-19 overnight.At a COVID-19 update press conference, Mr Gunner said authorities had succeeded in suppressing the ongoing NT outbreak but had “not succeeded in ending it altogether”.Mr Gunner said the NT was now “well and truly at the point where COVID-zero no longer exists, either as a strategy or as a reality”.LIVE UPDATES: Read our blog for the latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic”Our strategy with this outbreak has been aggressive suppression,” he said.”That’s why we locked down quickly. It worked. It did make it into some communities, but it didn’t spread across the Territory. It was kept under control.”We have succeeded in suppressing the outbreak, but we have not succeeded in ending it altogether. As the past month has shown, that’s very difficult, probably impossible, to achieve.”The total number of cases in the current outbreak remains at 61. The COVID lockout in Katherine is likely to lift at noon on Wednesday. (ABC News: Che Chorley)Lockout restrictions in Greater Katherine are due to lift at midday Wednesday, with a mask mandate set to remain in place for a week after the lockout ends.Mr Gunner said authorities were expecting more cases in Katherine, with wastewater testing results from the Bicentennial Road catchment area indicating a positive signal strength “higher than it has been for some time”.But he said more cases wouldn’t necessarily lead to a lockout extension.”We are expecting more cases, but if they are not community spread cases, it will still be our intention to proceed with lifting the lockout,” he said.”This is based on the evidence that while we can’t completely eliminate COVID from the community, it is not reproducing at a rate or in a way that will cause us substantial concern.”For our future decision-making, we’ll have more of a focus on the rate and scope of the spread rather than just the number of new cases.”We are going to keep seeing cases pop up. A case here and there does not necessarily mean a community goes into lockdown or lockout. It depends on where it is, what the links are, what the vulnerabilities are.”This is part of our new normal in the Territory.”Mr Gunner said the source of the positive wastewater results could be among the 30 close contacts of a three-year-old girl in Katherine who was reported as a positive case yesterday.The close contacts, who are spread across three households in Katherine East, are all within the Bicentennial Road catchment area, and authorities are still waiting on the results of their COVID tests.Read more about the Omicron variant:Wastewater samples in Binjari, just outside Katherine, are testing negative for COVID. Mr Gunner said the final decision on whether to lift the Katherine lockout would be made tomorrow morning based on advice from the Chief Health Officer and would be informed by test results expected to come in overnight.Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.WatchDuration: 2 minutes 35 seconds2m 35s Why we hear about some COVID-19 variants more than othersWhat you need to know about coronavirus:Loading form…

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