It is officially known as Australia's northern territory, located in Australia's central and central northern districts. It is the 3rd largest federal division in Australia as it covers 1,349,129 square kilometres, also ranking it as the 11th largest country subdivision in the entire world. It has a low population density, with a figure of just 244,761 people, half of the population in Tasmania, an island state of Australia.
Darwin is the capital and the largest city of the northern territory. The coastal regions are where most of the population resides, and along the Stuart Highway. There are many formal and informal names given to the citizens of the Northern Territory, such as Northern Territorians, short for "Territorians" or "Top Enders" and "Centralians."
Corona Virus Update in the Northern Territory
Currently, COVID-19 is a worldwide pandemic that is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Many countries suffered from it, Australia being one of them. The first case in Australia of Coronavirus came about on 25th January 2020 in Victoria, when a man was tested positive for COVID-19. He had just returned from a trip from Wuhan, China. There was shut down on 20th March, of Australian borders for all non-residents and rules and regulations for social distancing applied from the next day. All unnecessary services were closed down to avoid social gatherings and the spread of the virus. As there is no vaccine discovered yet to cure this disease, it has caused a sense of panic around the globe, with no assuredly of when this disease will go away, and things will go back to normal for everyone.
There was a high number of cases at the initial stage, which grew at a fast rate but then leveled down to 350 per day in March and then decreased in April and further so by the end of the month to 20 cases per day. However, a second wave of the virus in Victoria began by the end of June and is ongoing.
To fight these tough times, NT has been practicing strict laws against border crossing and infringements. The borders opened at the start of July. More than 5000 people traveled to the northern territory, out of which 143 people were directly taken to the quarantine facilities, which were made mandatory for them. Almost 1000 people that had entered NT before 17th July are currently in self-quarantine to prevent the current situation from worsening.
Victoria had the highest number of cases in Australia; the total number of reported cases in Australia are 15,582 cases and 176 deaths.
Corona Virus Polices in NT
The Northern Territory government has made plans to control the Coronavirus outbreaks to avoid the risk and danger it has to Aboriginal people by decreasing all avoidable travel to isolated districts. Northern Territory police officers have been instructed to follow extremely strict precautionary measures. The police have informed people that are in the given Coronavirus hotspots that if they decide to visit the Northern Territory, it will be compulsory for them to be put in a quarantine facility. If you are dishonest about your whereabouts, you will be charged with a heavy fine and three years of imprisonment.
NT Police and Environmental Health Officers make sure the citizens conform to the laws set to improve the current situation.
The fine for failure to act in consonance with the relevant law, under section 56 of the Public and Environmental Health Act 2011, was drafted by the Chief Health Officer Directions. A penalty of $5,056 is charged for an individual, and charges for business are $25,280.
Law Society NT has provided a Covid-19 safety plan in June, where the society ensures that workers and visitors are meeting health and safety measures.
Northern Territory (NT) Government's Jobs Rescue and Recovery plan has reduced the regulations that were in place before to make it easier for citizens to work. Workers no longer need to lodge applications for the following:
- Home Improvement Scheme
- Business Improvement Grants
- Immediate Work Grants.
The Northern territory's government has reduced the payroll tax for territory companies that might be going through a hard time due to COVID-19. These incentives include payroll tax being abolished for six months if you are a small working business, or being deferred if you are a large business instead. They have even cut down bills by 50% on water, electricity, and sewage, for six months.
The NT government is providing Worker and Wellbeing Funds for those who have lost their source of income and are being affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
HealthPathways is a website portal with details and support provided to clinics; they manage patients with their care facilities within Northern Territory.
According to the department of health in the northern territory, one doesn't need to wear face masks. However, it is preferred that people wear face masks when in contact with others, as that is the new socially acceptable norm.
While a mask creates a barrier between infected and unaffected people; there is still a danger of the virus transmitting from one person to another; hence it is recommended you continue to do the following:
- Remain home if you are unwell or sick
- Keep a distance of 1.5m or more when in public or surrounded by people
- Restrain all large gatherings and crowds
- Prioritize hygiene practices
It is important to follow all instructions and laws being passed in your country, especially those related to your workplace. Failing to abide by these will not only lead you to you being sanctioned but could also lead to losing your job in an already economically challenging period.
During these uncertain times, face masks and other precautionary measures such as carrying gloves, using sanitizers are playing a very important part. It is mandatory to carry face masks if your occupation is within the medical field where you may be in direct contact with COVID patients, the elderly, or those who have a weak immune system and are more likely to be affected if in contact with the virus. It is required for health care workers to perform all precautionary measures, especially wearing masks when interacting with symptomatic people as the chances of being exposed to respiratory particles through sneeze or cough are high.
The staff in charge of carrying out tests have been trained to the point where they are experts at not only carrying these procedures with extreme care but know how to rightly put on, use, and dispose of the masks.
There are other circumstances where the application of these safety measures are essential. It is expected that the cleaning staff should be in proper attire and mask when performing their tasks at hotels and other service sectors.
Private employees, as well as business linked that provide home-based care facilities to the elderly or in old homes, have been requested to wear surgical masks by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC).
When you take out a mask from its packaging, you must make sure your hands are clean and have not touched any surfaces. Once you apply the mask, you press the portion of the mask that covers your nose, so it molds into the shape of your nose and does not allow any bacteria or germ particles to pass through. When you want to remove the used mask, you should only touch its band around your ear to take it off and dispose of it by throwing it in a sealed dustbin. Afterward, make sure to clean your hands thoroughly for a good 20 seconds.
It is important to note that a shortage of surgical equipment may occur, and due to safety being a vital requirement in hospitals, usage of masks should be managed well, and plans are made accordingly. The masks, gloves, and gowns manufactured to be distributed and used by Australian hospitals should be mentioned on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG).
It is not advised, but under certain circumstances or in times of need when there is a low supply of masks, they can be used after their shelf life has passed. Keeping in mind that the strap must be attached, and there is no harm or damage done to the masks.
Masks and Uses
Wearing a mask is a good choice as it prevents the spread of the virus. Whether you are the carrier or the person you might be physically interacting with is. Surgical masks are easy to use and a safe choice. However, in a public setting, cloth masks are safer as they have higher tendencies to protect you from any particles that may be in the air. Cloth masks are not recommended to be worn by kids under the age of 2 or those who might suffer from breathing issues.
When using a face mask, it is important to use it in the correct method and dispose of it properly, if this is not practiced it raises the danger of the virus spreading rather than decreasing it.
Surgical mask surgical masks play an important role by creating a barrier that works as a shield to protect the wearer's nose and mouth from the surrounding and possible germs from the virus. Surgical masks have loose-fitting, easily disposable, and not as costly. They are highly effective as they limit the chances of the user getting infected.
In certain situations, employers must provide their workers with a single-use surgical mask for health care cases. Surgical masks are expected to be worn when:
- When the territory lawmakers give orders or advise locals of an area to wear masks.
- Under suspicion of being a carrier of the virus, you must wear a mask to avoid infecting others, especially if you work in a service industry that requires you to work or clean for other people.
- People who self-isolate themselves after coming back from a trip.
Cloth masks are made out of washable fabric that includes the common textiles, mostly cotton. It works like any other mask, covering the nose and mouth. It is advised that the general public wear cloth masks when interacting with a large crowd if you must be among people due to unavoidable reasons. These masks need to be designed and constructed with the proper knowledge to fulfill their purpose, covering the nose and mouth properly and safeguarding them from particles in the air. Washing and correctly cleaning these masks regularly is vital.
There are extensive instructions provided by the Australian government on cloth masks and their usage.
High particulate respirator (P2 or N95) masks
P2 and N95 marks are specifically designed for when there is a high possibility of the virus being transmitted through droplets that may be present in the environment. These masks are directed towards reducing any chance of your respiratory system being exposed to airborne toxins. It is essential for both the P2 and N95 to properly fit on your face to avoid any germs from passing through left out uneven spaces. In a workplace environment, workers should be given proper training on how these masks have to be worn, used, and disposed of.
During these difficult times of COVID-19, P2 and N95 masks must be worn by healthcare workers and people visiting these facilities. However, the high demand for P2 masks has led to fake safety gear entering the Australian industry. It is recommended to read instructions provided by the government before purchasing masks that provide details on what requirements the masks need to fulfill.
For more details regarding face masks, their usage, and availability, you can head on the website provided by the Department of Health.
Northern Territory Hotlines:
- 1800 008 002: Northern Territory COVID-19 number.
- 1800 020 080: National COVID-19.
- 1800 518 189: Remote services hotline