Three teenagers who allegedly absconded from the Howard Springs quarantine facility near Darwin have been found and arrested.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the trio were close contacts linked to an outbreak at the Binjari Aboriginal community (about 330km south of Darwin) and aged 15, 16 and 17-years-old.

“We are dealing with a pretty complicated cohort … with complex needs,” he said.

“They are not positive for COVID-19 and they all took their latest tests yesterday and all returned negative results.

“The health risk to the community was very low.”

Police say the group jumped the fence about 4.30am on Wednesday.

They were found about six hours later near Palmerston, 20km south of Darwin, and taken into custody.


They are likely to be charged.

The Centre for National Resilience in Howard Springs, south of Darwin, is a large, open-air former mining camp capable of quarantining about 2000 people.

NT police said it would increase surveillance at the 165-acre site and implement a program to alleviate the loneliness felt by some people quarantined there.

The facility is currently used to quarantine Australians returning from overseas, some domestic arrivals, and locals linked to an outbreak of COVID-19 which erupted across the NT last month.

An NT Health spokeswoman was unable to confirm how many people were currently quarantined at the facility.

Earlier this week, a fully-vaccinated man in his 30s quarantined at Howard Springs was diagnosed with the new Omicron variant.


He had arrived in Darwin on a repatriation flight from South Africa last week and his positive result was confirmed on Friday.

The incident comes days after a man in his 20s escaped the facility over the weekend before jumping into a waiting car and heading to Darwin’s nightlife area.


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