More than 3000 residents living in nine public housing towers in Melbourne have been thrust into an immediate “hard lockdown” as the state records 108 new cases of coronavirus, the biggest spike in cases since March 28.
The thousands of people living in the towers will be restricted from leaving their home for any reason for at least five days, Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Saturday.
Every single person will be tested for COVID-19 throughout the next five days, which if required, will be extended.
The “high density” towers, in Flemington and North Melbourne, are home to “some of the most vulnerable people in the community”, and comprise of a total of 1345 units.
The addresses of four towers in Flemington were revealed, including 12 Holland Court, and numbers 120, 126, and 130 on Racecourse Road.
In North Melbourne, five addresses were listed, including 12 Sutton Street, 33 Alfred Street, 76 Canning Street, 159 Melrose Street, and 9 Pampas Street.
“There will be no one allowed in...and no one allowed out,” Mr Andrews said.
Residents in the public housing units will receive food deliveries and medical, drug and alcohol support.
Mr Andrews said there were several positive cases in the towers, which are high density and have a series of shared facilities, including laundries, lifts and access points.
Deputy chief health officer Annaliese van Diemen said it was highly probable that hundreds of residents were already infected with COVID-19 within the towers.
Mr Andrews said the numbers were of “very real concern” and pleaded with residents to accept a test if a health worker presented one.
“It is a massive contribution that you can make to the health and welfare of your family and every family,” he said.
An additional two postcodes, 3031 and 3051, were added to the 10 lockdown zones after recording “unreasonably high” numbers of COVID-19 on Saturday.
Fourteen of the new cases are linked to controlled outbreaks, 25 are the result of routine testing, and 69 cases are still under investigation.
There was a nationwide total of 113 new cases on Saturday, including the 108 from Victoria and five in NSW - all of which have been acquired overseas and are in hotel quarantine.
Australia's Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly addressed the situation in Victoria on Saturday, expressing his concern and calling on residents to be tested and isolate as necessary.
He said locking down the towers would be a “difficult but important” step in containing the spread of the virus.
Professor Kelly revealed that he had called on the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) for an emergency meeting to discuss the severity of the situation in Victoria.
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