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Kimberley and NT News: How will COVID-19 affect your travel plans?
March 18, 2020

18 March 2020, Special Issue

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Hi everyone,

I have already received several emails over the last couple of days, from people planning a trip in April or May, asking me about possible COVID-19 related travel restrictions and closures in the Kimberley.

I realise that many of you who are planning a trip in the near future are concerned how the current outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 may affect your plans.
The questions made clear to me that many people still do not realise what lies ahead.

Hence this special newsletter issue.


I can not tell you what exactly the situation will be like during the Easter holidays and beyond. It is evolving rapidly as we speak.
Right now the number of confirmed infections in Australia is still low (and it is zero in the Kimberley and in the NT as of March 18, 6:30 am).

The reason for that is that the virus arrived later in Australia than it did in Europe and the US, NOT because for some magical reason what is happening in the rest of the world will not happen in Australia.
Australia is merely a few weeks behind.

It is only a matter of time until the case load will start to sharply increase, though it's impossible to say when exactly it will happen.
(Well, an epidemiologist could probably tell you, but I can't.)
Once things pick up speed, the situation will change on a daily basis as authorities respond to the developments.


One reader asked me "if there is a possibility of authorities shutting this area due to corona virus".

In my opinion, absolutely. Just as there is a possibility of authorities shutting the area where you live.
If a bigger outbreak occurs anywhere, it needs to be contained.
I can't tell you where exactly those outbreaks will be happening first or when, but eventually this will affect everyone everywhere.

This virus is highly contagious and the only way to slow down its spread (so that hospitals can keep up with the case load) is to keep people apart and to prevent them from moving around.
So to some extent that will have to happen.
When and where exactly and to what extent remains to be seen.

I do hope that the Australian authorities will take earlier and more decisive steps than what we saw in Europe or the US.


Some restrictions are in place already:

Anybody arriving in Australia from overseas is required to self isolate for 14 days.
I do not expect this restriction to be lifted any time soon.
(For overseas tourists that won't matter much. Many are not allowed to leave their country anymore anyway.)

There are also restrictions on large gatherings as well as closures of Aboriginal communities, both in WA and the NT.

A call from senior doctors to close the WA state borders to interstate travel has been rejected by the WA government for now.

WA's health minister spoke of restricting long distance travel within WA (to place like e.g. Broome) but the statement has since been reversed.

In the Kimberley, right now all businesses are open and operating, some remote communities are closed, including Kalumburu, and the Ord Valley Muster will NOT go ahead.

I do expect the situation to evolve quickly and I do expect it to affect your travel plans.

I will be very happy if it turns out I'm wrong in saying this, but I expect you will need to stay home. End of story.

Below are some links to websites where you can keep up with the developments in WA and the NT:

Western Australian Government: Department of Health

Department of the Premier and Cabinet: COVID-19 Latest Updates

Secure NT

If you want to keep up with Kimberley specific information, currently the best source I know of is the ABC Kimberley Facebook Page.


And last but not least, while there is a scary amount of nonsense floating around the internet and especially the social media sites, there is also some quality information that is coming from people other than the authorities (who could be a lot more informative and transparent imo).

The first is a 15 min excerpt from a long interview with renowned infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm, who calmly says it as it is:
How Serious is the Coronavirus?

Another very important excerpt from the same interview is this one:
Hand Sanitizer & Face Masks, Will They Help Against the Coronavirus?

In case you have too much time on your hands, the full 94 min interview is here.

For people with a more scientific background and interest I can recommend the MedCram channel which currently publishes daily updates.
As you can see from the video titles, these are not the usual updates, this is about the science behind it all.

I'll leave it at that.

Understand that this will not blow over quickly. It will affect all of us for months to come.
Take it seriously, keep yourself informed, and stay safe.


Destination Kimberley, Destination Top End and Destination Red Centre have all the information you need to put together your dream trip.

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(c) 2020, Birgit Bradtke. All rights reserved.
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