The Northern Territory has reported another 492 COVID-19 infections with the government conceding the virus is “everywhere”.
But Health Minister Natasha Fyles says public health measures to contain the outbreak are working.
“We’ve really flattened that curve and we want to keep it that way,” the minister said on Wednesday.
“There is COVID everywhere in the Northern Territory. Our health officials are working through this public holiday to make sure that we’ve got all the information we need.”
“We’ve certainly flattened that curve and that slows the transmission and that’s where our real focus is.”
The NT’s new infections came after 517 new cases were reported on Tuesday.
Active infections in the Territory are now at 3208 with 84 people in hospital, including three in intensive care.
Wednesday’s cases included another nine in the Alice Springs prison, taking the total there across staff and inmates to 122.
Among remote communities, Yuendumu, northwest of Alice Springs, reported another nine, while Galiwin’ku on Elcho Island in Arnhem Land reported another 28, taking the cluster there to 148.
The new cases also came as the Central Land Council called for an urgent lockdown of remote Indigenous communities to save lives amid the “out-of-control” spread of COVID-19.
The council said the NT and federal governments must collaborate on enforcing a lockdown until the situation is under control.
“We need a circuit breaker to slow down the out-of-control spread of the virus in our communities,” chief executive Les Turner said in a statement.
“We all use the same hospitals and will be very much in it together when they become overwhelmed.”
Mr Turner said the lockdown should include police and Australian Defence Force personnel staffing roadblocks to restrict movement between communities and into regional centres.
A surge workforce was also needed to help test, trace, quarantine and vaccinate residents.
Ms Fyles said the government had a strong testing regime in place for local communities and continued to follow the advice of health officials.
But she said it was important people came forward for testing.
“It is difficult. A number of people will be asymptomatic, they won’t feel unwell,” Ms Fyles said.
“So we just need Territorians to be really conscious of their health.
“We’re confident in the public health measures we have in place. We believe they’re proportionate.”
Mr Turner said a number of super spreader events had contributed to the explosion of cases in remote communities, but Aboriginal people were taking action.
“Many of our constituents are now delaying funerals to slow the spread of COVID,” he said.
“Our people and their organisations are doing their bit. They now need both governments to stop burying their heads in the sand, face facts and back them.”