Over the past few weeks, the Northern Territory has experienced a significant rise in COVID-19 case numbers. Driven by the recent lifting of restrictions and opening of the border to vaccinated travelers, the Northern Territory now finds itself in a precarious position moving forward. Despite travellers being banned from entering remote communities, the opening of the borders and movement of people has significantly increased the risk of the virus entering remote Indigenous communities including Watarrka.

As case numbers continue to rise, the Watarrka Foundation felt it important to revisit some simple strategies that can help slow the spread of the virus.

Strategies to help slow the spread of COVID-19

There are some simple steps we can all take to keep our community safe. These include:

1. Getting vaccinated and tracking your booster date 

To book your vaccine, visit https://coronavirus.nt.gov.au/stay-safe/booking-your-covid-19-vaccine. Alternatively, you can use this interactive map to find an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Health Service near you.

2. Use your Territory Check In App wherever you go

By using this app you will be notified about relevant case alerts and have the means to correctly inform NT Health of your own movements if you become COVID positive.

3. Get tested – no matter how mild your symptoms are! 

If symptomatic or a close contact, you must stay home after your test until you get your result. Individuals can collect Rapid Antigen Tests for free from NT distribution centres or purchase them from chemists when available. If you produce a positive result on a Rapid Antigen Test, you will need to complete the Rapid Antigen Test declaration form. Alternatively you can call the COVID-19 Hotline on 1800 490 484 to inform them. You must then book in for a COVID-19 PCR test and inform members of your household and close contacts that you have tested positive.

4. Practice good hygiene

5. Check the public exposure site list daily

You can check the exposure site list here. If you have been to a public exposure site at the relevant dates and times listed on the Northern Territory Government website, you must do the following:

self-quarantine at your home or suitable place of accommodation

get tested for COVID-19 and self-quarantine at home until you return a negative result.

call the NT COVID-19 Hotline on 1800 490 484 and tell the call handler you're a close contact

What to do if you are a close contact or COVID positive

As COVID-19 continues to spread across the Northern Territory, it’s likely that you may become infected with COVID-19. Here is some information to help guide you on what to do if you come into close contact with a COVID-19 positive person or become COVID-19 positive yourself.

1. Prepare a Get COVID-Ready Kit

This kit will prepare you for mandatory isolation at home. For a full list of items, visit https://coronavirus.nt.gov.au/stay-safe/get-covid-ready#get-kit 

2. Prepare a COVID Care Plan

It’s important to have a plan in case you or anyone in your household gets COVID-19. If this happens, you will need to isolate at home. It will help the team who looks after you if you get COVID-19 to understand your health care and support needs and decide on the best care for you. The COVID Care Plan includes important information about you, your health and people in your household. Please download a COVID Care Plan template here.

3. Keep a COVID-19 symptoms diary

Tracking your symptoms during the isolation period will help the team who looks after you track your progress and provide any necessary health care support. You can download a symptoms diary template here

4. Self-isolate and avoid unnecessary contact with others. 

If you live with other people, please do the following:

Additional Resources

In addition to the advice above, we have also compiled a collection of useful resources to help you understand COVID-19 and implement good practice to avoid its spread.

1. Download the Northern Territory Check In App here.

2. Access more COVID-Ready resources here.

3. Find your closest COVID-19 testing clinic here.

4. The Northern Land Council (NLC) has produced a series of videos about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Aboriginal languages. You can watch the videos on the NLC youtube page here

5. The Aboriginal Medical Service Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) webpage features a collation of resources and links to external sites to support member services, health professionals and community members relating to COVID-19. These include resources that have been translated into a range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. Access them here.

6. Access the ‘ Keep our Mob Safe: Information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities about coronavirus’ guide here.

To support the Foundation and our projects within the Northern Territory, make a donation at www.givenow.com.au/watarrkafoundation

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