• Darwin and Katherine are in lockdown, after a 30-year-old man testing positive to COVID-19. (AAP)Source: AAP
Aboriginal health services say they're concerned about the COVID-19 case who spent time in both Darwin and Katherine.
Keira Jenkins, Douglas Smith

16 Aug 2021 - 5:45 PM  UPDATED 16 Aug 2021 - 5:45 PM

Darwin and Katherine have been plunged into a 72-hour lockdown, after a traveller returned a positive COVID-19 case.

Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) CEO John Patterson told NITV News the case is concerning, especially for communities around Darwin and Katherine.

"It does send a bit of fear through the community, particularly for our most vulnerable members of the community - those that are sleeping rough or may not have appropriate accommodation or support during this lockdown," he said.

"It is a concern and we're putting the message out there to ensure our communities heed to those very important health messages - stay at home and seriously consider getting vaccinated.

"I can't stress the seriousness of this Delta strain enough."

A 30-year-old man spent three days in the Darwin community after travelling from Sydney, where he had spent 14 days quarantining in a hotel due to arriving internationally.

The man visited various sites in Darwin, including the hospital for mandatory COVID-19 testing, before travelling to Katherine for work on Sunday, where he received his positive result.

He had previously returned a negative test on the final day of his quarantine in Sydney before he flew to the Territory via Canberra.

Mr Patterson said he's supportive of the NT government's decision to go into a snap lockdown.

"We believe that's the best strategy to get the best result, don't procrastinate and hope it'll go away," he said.

"If it's the Delta, and we're pretty confident it is, it's a very serious and spreadable disease.

"...Short, sharp, hard lockdowns is the way to go."

Murder trial deferred

The new restrictions mean the murder trial for NT police officer Zachary Rolfe, which was meant to begin on Wednesday has been moved until Monday next week.

It is the second time the trial has had to be moved due to the effects of COVID-19.  

The NT Supreme Court closed on Monday and is expected to reopen on Friday morning. 

Constable Zachary Rolfe shot and killed Walpiri man, Kumanjayi Walker in November 2019 at the remote community of Yuendumu.

He was charged with murder in the first degree and is also facing the lesser charge of manslaughter, both of which he is expected to plead not guilty. 

In addition to the adjournment, all circuit courts out of Darwin and Katherine this week such as Alyangula, Galiwinku, Nhulunbuy and Mataranka have been cancelled as a consequence of the lockdown.

A convoy of family and community members from Yuendumu have abandoned their 2000 kilometre trip from the remote community to Darwin for the trial. 

“Due to the news that there has been one positive case in the Darwin/Palmerston/Katherine region, the families and community who were driving up from Yuendumu have turned around and are heading home,” read the statement. 

“No one from the convey has been affected.

“We will update on our movements once the situation becomes clearer.”

Meanwhile, in a bid to protect remote communities in the Territory, the Northern Land Council suspended permits to enter and remain on Aboriginal land until further notice.

NLC Chairman Samuel Bush-Blanasi encouraged Aboriginal people to stay in their community as much as possible.

“If you don’t need to travel, don’t," he said.

"Stay at home in your community or on your homeland with your family. If you have the opportunity to get vaccinated then get it done.”

Essential workers will still have their permits processed during this period. 

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