Australia’s Northern Territory to keep borders closed for at least 18 months over coronavirus pandemic

Australia’s Northern Territory (NT) will keep its borders closed to coronavirus-affected states for at least another 18 months.

Officials in the sparsely-populated NT, which hasn’t had an infection since May, said an “18-month window” barring visitors from virus hotspots was just a “conservative” forecast.

People from those hotspots can still enter the territory but must complete a mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine at their own cost, which has been an effective deterrent.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner said he was determined to prevent spread from the Victoria and New South Wales.

Australia is battling a second wave in its south-east, with about 8,000 active cases in Melbourne and smaller clusters in Sydney.

But elsewhere around the country, the virus has effectively been eliminated.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said interstate travel restrictions will likely persist until Christmas.

But with around 22,000 cases and 332 deaths, Australia has still fared better than many countries.