19 March, 2020

COVID-19 Presentation to the CAO, March 2020 (CAAC)

The NT must become a Special Control Area for COVID 19 or else there will be a lot of preventable deaths.

The Combined Aboriginal Organisations of Alice Springs held
a special meeting to discuss the threat of COVID 19 to Aboriginal communities
across Central Australia.

“All organisations were really clear that we need to make
the entire NT and the tristate region a Special Control Area for COVID 19. This
means that we want to apply the same travel restrictions that apply to
international visitors nationally to visitors to the Northern Territory from
any Australian jurisdiction.”

“This is really our only hope of preventing the NT from
experiencing the type of exponential spread that is now being seen in Sydney,
Melbourne and other Australian cities. More of the same will just give the same
outcomes,” said Donna Ah Chee one of the spokespersons for the Combined
Aboriginal organisations (CAO).

“If we don’t protect the regional centres in the NT then we
are not protecting remote communities. Aboriginal people move in and out of our
regional centres all the time for life saving health care, to get back on to
Centrelink payments and to buy food at affordable prices. This will not just
stop overnight. We have to make sure that the regional centres in the NT are
also protected in order to protect our remote communities,” said Peter Renehan,
another spokesperson for the CAO.

“In addition to this, there are many vulnerable people
living in town camps and other areas in the regional centres. They also deserve
to be better protected,” he continued.

“We have to stop pretending that the health system will cope
no matter how well prepared we try to make it. We don’t have the workforce or
the infrastructure in intensive care to cope with the surge that will come if
we let this pandemic unleash its full force on the NT. Look at Italy, Holland,
Spain and other European countries – they all thought they could cope and are
now telling us not to make the mistakes that they made,” continued Donna Ah

“Apart from the inability of the health system to cope, our communities cannot suddenly overcome the additional susceptibility to this infection due to underlying chronic diseases, overcrowding, lack of food security, inadequate income and many other social determinants that will see this virus become a “super spreader” if allowed in. There is no immediate fix to these issues,” said Peter Renehan. “We must do everything possible to stop this virus from entering the NT. We don’t accept a flatted curve we want a continuous flat line when it comes to COVID 19 and this is our best chance of achieving this,” concluded Donna Ah Chee.