• Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt. (AAP)Source: AAP
As the Kimberley shuts down its borders, the Minister for Indigenous Australians says he is confident in the measures being put in place to stop the spread of Coronavirus through our remote communities.
Jodan Perry, Jack Latimore

3 Apr 2020 - 3:15 PM  UPDATED 3 Apr 2020 - 3:23 PM

Following news that there are now 11 confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Western Australia's Kimberley region, the Minister for Indigenous Australians has reaffirmed his confidence in the state and federal departments that are implementing crucial COVID-19 containment measures.

Five new cases in the Kimberley region that were confirmed on Thursday were health workers - three from Broome, one from Kununurra and one from Halls Creek.

None of the five cases are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people, but the concern is that they may have had contact with members of outlaying remote Indigenous communities through medical services provided in each of the towns.

As of Thursday night, tough new travel restrictions came into effect in the region. The four Kimberley shires have closed their 'borders', with WA state premier Mark McGowan saying the measures were to protect remote Indigenous communities.

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Despite the increase in Covid-19 positive cases in the region, the Aboriginal Affairs minister, Mr Wyatt, told NITV News on Thursday that he has been told all relevant authorities are investigating thoroughly.

"Isolation is certainly in place. The department is working very closely with the Aboriginal community controlled health sector in ensuring that they track down and trace all people who have come in contact with the health professionals," he said.

"The Minister for Health is replacing staff who are critical to the investigation of health services within the Kimberley region.

"I have every confidence in what Western Australia is doing and the way in which they're ensuring they contain the virus and the way in which they're working with the individuals who have self-isolated."

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Mr Wyatt said he has been receiving constant updates from across the country from Governments and State Aboriginal Affairs Ministers, Health Departments, branches of the National Indigenous Australians Agency and Community Controlled Aboriginal Health Organisations to work through the evolving situation.

The minister reiterated that the departments have been in close contact with remote Indigenous communities to listen to the issues they are facing and to keep them informed of any new developments.

 "We are doing this on every issue, even simple things like if we have outbreaks then what are the health uplifts that we have to do, what's the role of the royal flying doctor and are they capable of doing what we need. And we are even assessing airstrips for aircraft capability," he said.

"[NIAA] is involved with a number of other government agencies on inter-departmental working groups and certainly [Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt] and his department have worked closely with my agency, and cabinet has focused on the needs of remote Indigenous communities and hence we did the quarantining of many of the communities by saying we've applied the Biosecurity act under section 477.

"We're working closely together because this is about our people and this is about making sure that we get the best possible outcomes for them."

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