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(AUSTRALIA) #Coronavirus Report: The N.T government says it is pushing ahead with plans to reopen the borders next month despite repeated calls from Aboriginal health groups to delay the changes until remote vaccination rates improve #AceHealthDesk report

#AceHealthReport – Nov.28: The NT government fast-tracked reopening plans last week when it halved the quarantine period for some vaccinated hotspot travellers and announced quarantine requirements would be scrapped altogether from December 20.

#CoronavirusNewsDesk says but as the Territory grapples with its worst #COVID19 outbreak — which has seen three remote communities locked down this month — the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT wants that plan delayed while another vaccine blitz is undertaken in remote communities: Kindness & Love❤️ says Be Safe Amen 🙏’s

The photo shows the silhouette of a woman walking inside Melbourne Airport as a plane prepares for boarding.
Hotspot travellers to the NT will not need to quarantine from December 20, but will be subject to strict testing.(AAP: Mal Fairclough)

Aboriginal health groups including AMSANT have called for quarantine requirements to be maintained until remote communities reach 90-95 per cent vaccination coverage.Renewed calls to delay NT border reopening Aboriginal health groups appeal to the NT government to ease back on border reopening plans.

Key points:

  • The Health Minister says the NT needs to “learn to live with COVID”
  • Fully vaccinated travellers will be able to enter the NT without quarantining from December 20
  • 55 communities across the NT are below 70pc fully vaccinated

Instead, all arrivals would be required to undergo a more stringent testing regime, with unvaccinated travellers barred from coming to the Territory.

There are 55 remote communities across the NT with a full vaccination rate below 70 per cent, according to the latest NT government data.

At a press conference on Friday, Health Minister Natasha Fyles said people in the Territory needed to “learn to live with COVID”.

“We’re not going to fall over at the final hurdle,” Ms Fyles said.

“We have a regime of testing that will take place, we will learn over the next few weeks how that works and then everyone arriving into the Territory will be tested so that we can stop the spread of COVID-19, but we certainly won’t be changing our measures dramatically.”

In a fiery speech yesterday condemning online misinformation about the army’s role in the outbreak response, Mr Gunner said the protection of the NT’s Aboriginal communities and “tens of thousands of years of history, lore, custom and song” was his main focus.

Current rates ‘won’t work’: Congress

Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Chief Medical Officer Dr John Boffa said current vaccination rates will not be sufficient to protect the Indigenous community once the NT’s borders reopen.

Helped by a significant spike in the past two weeks, Dr Boffa said, double dose vaccination rates of Congress clients would, at best, only reach about 70 per cent by the time borders reopen.

“Once we hit December 20, if we go to no quarantine, soon after that we’ll have COVID in the community,” he told ABC Alice Springs on Friday.

“What we’re relying on to control that is vaccination rates, and we still don’t have them at a level that is going to work.

“The Doherty modelling made it really clear: we need to be at 90 per cent double dose to get good protection and stop an outbreak spreading.”

Dr Boffa pointed to the current COVID-19 outbreak in South Australia, which recently opened its borders to vaccinated travellers, as an example of how quickly COVID could enter the NT once borders open.

“People need to realise, we’re at risk now … we’ve got to get our double dose rate up by December 20.”

On Thursday, Congress published a tweet saying it was communicating with clients and they were “now in a race with a deadline to get everyone vaccinated”.

“The government is opening our borders on December 20,” reads a new placard that has been placed in Congress clinics, according to the tweet.

“Get vaxxed now!”

Some remote vaccine rates improve

Concerted vaccination drives and the Katherine region coronavirus outbreak have led to a boost in vaccination rates in some remote communities, according to NT government data.

The NT government has said the three remote communities sent into lockdown — Robinson River, Binjari and Rockhole — have all seen major jumps in first dose coverage.

Further south, the overall first-dose vaccination rate for 24 Central Australian communities has jumped by 16 per cent this month, with 67 per cent of residents 16 and older now partially vaccinated.

All remote communities across the Top End and East Arnhem regions now have a first-dose vaccination rate above 70 per cent.

There are still at least four communities with vaccination rates below 20 per cent.

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#AceHealthDesk report …………Published: Nov.28: 2021:

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