Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory have been putting themselves into lockdown to stop the rapid spread of COVID-19.
Traditional Owners is the remote community of Maningrida, around 500km east of Darwin, have implemented a seven-day self-imposed lockdown on the community, taking back control of managing the virus from the NT Government.
As of Wednesday, there were 35 active cases in the community, with a population of around 2600 in the area affected.
The Katherine Times understands local stores have closed apart from one supermarket, roads have been cut and fly-in-fly-out staff with local organisations have been asked to return home for seven days.
Schools are still running and essential workers are still at work, the Katherine Times understands.
Maningrida's health service, Mala'la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation, passed on the request from Traditonal Owners and Nja-Marléya Leaders in a social media post on Thursday.
"With positive cases of COVID-19 now across all camps in Maningrida, Traditional Owners and Nja-Marléya Leaders are urging everybody to stay at home to help stop the virus from spreading more," the post reads.
"Please stay at home unless you have to: Get medical help (ie. go to clinic), buy food (only 1 person going to shop), provide care for someone who can't look after themselves, escape family violence, leave in an emergency."
The Northern Land Council confirmed they were supported Maningrida enforcing its own lockdown and making decisions for themselves about managing COVID-19.
"The NLC has long been calling for local traditional owner and representative bodies to take strong action to keep their communities safe," a spokesperson said.
"As long as [they] follow correct health advice and make reasoned and well-founded decisions that support their community and keep them safe, then the NLC will support their decisions."
The local arts centre, Babbarra Designs, which is managed by Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation, announced they had closed their doors because of the lockdown.
"Maningrida has begun a seven-day, voluntary lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus within the community," their social media post reads.
"This means the art centre is closed while staff work from home."
It comes after Bagot Community in Darwin also imposed a lockdown on themselves last week, with the support of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Danila Dilba and Larrakia Nation.
Danila Dilba put out a call out for donations of food and food vouchers for residents during the lockdown.
"On Behalf of Bagot Community, we are calling for support in the form of food or food vouchers for the residents of Bagot," Danila Dilba said in a social media post.
When questioned at a press conference on Wednesday, Health Minister Natasha Fyles denied that Aboriginal communties were had been left to battle COVID by themselves.
"We've provided a strong response to COVID-19 right across the Northern Territory. And we have a structure it's based on the emergency management that we usually see around natural disasters, but it has proved very strong in dealing with COVID," Ms Fyles said.
"We have 80 remote clinics across the Northern Territory, we're working closely with the Aboriginal medical organisations, making sure each and every community has a response that is appropriate for that community."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
DO YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY?: Send letters to the editor or story tips to email@example.com
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.