The potentially deadly coronavirus has reportedly infected five health workers in the Kimberley region in the north of Western Australia where the virus now poses an increasingly serious threat to numerous remote Aboriginal communities.
The five new cases reported by The Australian newspaper overnight includes an employee of the WA Country Health Service in Halls Creek, one health worker in Kununurra near the Northern Territory border, and three health workers from Broome on the north-west coast.
Almost half of the region's population is Indigenous, and The Australian reports that the health services in all three locations where the workers tested positive regularly treat residents from outlying communities.
First Nations peoples are considered especially vulnerable to COVID-19 because of longstanding inequality in health compared with the rest of Australia, specifically in respiratory illness, diabetes, and heart disease.
The situation comes after heavy quarantine regulations and restrictions on entry were implemented last week in efforts to stop, or slow, the spread of COVID-19 into regions containing remote Indigenous communities.
The five health workers and the confirmation of a sixth positive case in the region brought the total number of known cases of COVID-19 in the Kimberley to 12, with the total number of cases across WA rising to 392.
-more to come.