'Failure of standards': Health officials slam video of coronavirus 'hotel quarantine rave' in Darwin

The president of the Northern Territory Australian Medical Association says vision of a dance party at a Darwin quarantine facility was of ‘significant concern’.

A video posted to TikTok showed quarantined people at a Darwin facility having a dance party.

A video posted to TikTok showed quarantined people at a Darwin facility having a dance party. Source: TikTok

Health officials have called for an urgent review into management of the Northern Territory's mandatory quarantine system after video emerged online of a dance party at a facility in Darwin. 

The video, posted to TikTok, shows people gathering in a large group between accommodation facilities for a dance party, with some seen not wearing face masks.

It’s believed the video was filmed at the Howard Springs quarantine facility in Darwin.

TikTok video shows dance party at quarantine facility in Howard Springs, Darwin

Robert Parker, President of the Australian Medical Association’s Northern Territory branch, told SBS News the video raised significant concern and likened it to hotel quarantine breaches in Melbourne. 

“The whole thing is you are in quarantine to prevent you from passing the COVID-19 bugs on to other individuals. But if you are interacting with others, that’s what you could do,” he said.

"We have been lucky in the NT that we have had no significant community transmission and we have been far away from the hotspots of Sydney and Melbourne. So, I guess it is just a blasé view on issues and I suppose toleration of things that wouldn’t be tolerated down south." 

The Northern Territory has zero active cases of COVID-19 and has been without community transmission for months.

Residents travelling to the NT from certain hotspot areas such as metropolitan Melbourne are required to under 14 day quarantining.

From Friday, the territory lifted its coronavirus hotspot declaration for greater Sydney, meaning Sydneysiders are once again free to travel there without quarantining first. 

Deputy Chief Health Officer Charles Pain on Thursday said the decision was "considered carefully", in light of the current outbreak of COVID-19 cases in Sydney being "contained". 

But Dr Pain urged Territorians to remain vigilant with social distancing and other measures to keep COVID-19at bay, adding he would like to see more people wearing masks.

Dr Parker said the conduct in the video, and possible breaches in the quarantine system, "put that all at risk". 

“You could end up with community transmission in the NT and we have been very open about the risks of that particularly with our Indigenous community where there is a likelihood of a very high mortality rate,” he said.

He called for an urgent review into the management of the quarantine facilities and their standards.

“Quarantine is quarantine, it is tough it is boring, but the whole point is to protect the community from the virus, and obviously the standards in quarantine are not at the required level to provide that protection,” Dr Parker said.

The NT Department of Health told SBS News it was unable to comment, citing an ongoing NT Police investigation. 

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction's restrictions on gathering limits. 

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.

Please check the relevant guidelines for your state or territory: NSW, VictoriaQueenslandWestern AustraliaSouth AustraliaNorthern TerritoryACTTasmania.

Published 9 October 2020 at 6:29pm, updated 9 October 2020 at 9:05pm
By Jarni Blakkarly, Amelia Dunn