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FIFO worker passes COVID to family members

Granites Gold Mine
Newmont Corporation's Granites Gold Mine

A remote mine employee transmitted the highly infectious Delta strain to his immediate family members.

The wife and daughter of a fly-in fly-out (FIFO) worker, who contracted coronavirus (COVID-19), have also tested positive.

The Department of the NT Chief Minister and Cabinet confirmed the women became infected while the male employee isolated at home in Palmerston, the Northern Territory. He works at Newmont Corporation’s Granites Gold Mine in the Tanami Desert, 540km northwest of Alice Springs.

Family quarantined

All three family members have since been transported to the Manigurr-Ma Camp in Howard Springs, 25km east of Darwin.

“Two new cases are household contacts of the mine worker in Palmerston. The family members have been in quarantine at Howard Springs and remain in quarantine under the care of NT Health,” the department said in a public statement.

The 64-year-old had spent one night at a Brisbane quarantine hotel where he was suspected to be infected. He boarded a charter plane to the mine site the following day on 18 June 2021 and travelled to Darwin on June 25 for observation at the Centre for National Resilience, until his wife picked him up and drove him home.

Queensland infections rise

Another FIFO worker was diagnosed with COVID-19 after returning home to Ipswich from the same mine site. Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young considers him to have a low-risk of transmission because he quickly isolated after returning to the Sunshine State.

A total 170 Queenslanders have returned home from the mine and are all in isolation under strict supervision, according to the Australian Associated Press. A total of 11 cases were linked to the Granites mine cluster at the time of publication.

4M Queenslanders locked down

Although just two cases of community transmission have been reported, the State Government announced a preventative three-day lockdown for the entire southeast Queensland, Townsville, Magnetic Island and Palm Island areas.

Non-essential travel is prohibited until at least July 2 across the following local government areas: Brisbane, Ipswich, Logan, Moreton Bay, Redland, Somerset, Noosa, Townsville, Magnetic Island, Palm Island, the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Scenic Rim and Lockyer Valley.

An estimated 4 million people are also required to wear a mask until 1am on July 13. Residents who visit other regions are still required to wear a mask after leaving their accommodation.

Taking no ‘chances’

“With the new Delta strain now in the Queensland community, we cannot afford to take any chances,” State Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said in a public statement.

“This highly infectious strain means that a three-day lockdown in southeast Queensland, Townsville and Palm Island is our only choice.”

The following essential activities are still permitted:

  • childcare, health care, vaccination and caring for vulnerable people
  • buying groceries, medication and other essential items
  • working or studying if it cannot be done from home
  • exercising in your local area.

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The NT Government separately extended its lockdown and mandatory mask order for Darwin, Palmerston, Litchfield and the Granites mine. Anyone who has been in those areas must isolate for a further 72 hours until 1pm on July 2.

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