Alice Springs is in the midst of a 72-hour lockdown until July 3 after a positive mine worker from the Tanami gold mine COVID cluster passed through the town’s airport.
The man flew from Newmont Corporation’s Tanami mine to Adelaide on June 25, stopping at Alice Springs airport for several hours, before getting tested on June 26 and returning a negative test.
He and his family have since developed symptoms and returned more positive tests recently, prompting the Alice Springs Town Council area and town camps to enter a snap lockdown while health teams identify, trace and isolate any contacts.
In late-June, the Northern Territory’s chief health officer Hugh Heggie said lockdowns were non-negotiable and imperative to mitigating the outbreak.
“COVID-19 has made its way to the NT and it is vital that we get on top of this cluster early. The actions we take in the coming days will be paramount to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Heggie said.
“This requires a community effort right across the Northern Territory and we need each and every person in the Territory to do the right thing”
The outbreak has prompted the mining industry to reconsider its stance on vaccinations.
Minerals Council of Australia chief executive officer Tania Constable said she believed all mining workers should strongly consider getting vaccinated.
“Health and safety is the number one priority of Australian mining, which is operating under strict national COVID-19 health and safety protocols in addition to official health standards to keep its workforce, families and communities safe and sites operating,” Constable said.
“The mining sector has been reviewing our protocols throughout the pandemic and the Tanami incident has resulted in a further review to learn the lessons from this incident and strengthen the industry’s response.
“While COVID-19 vaccination is voluntary, given the increasing options available the MCA strongly encourages all mining workers especially FIFO workers to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”