The nine Melbourne towers under hard lockdown will relax isolation rules except for one, where at least 53 coronavirus cases have been confirmed.
Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton told reporters on Thursday everyone in the tower at 33 Alfred Street would remain in quarantine for another nine days as two to three close contacts of every confirmed case were identified.
Professor Sutton also issued a chilling warning that up to a quarter of people in the North Melbourne tower could become infected with the virus.
“We need to recognise that there might be 20 to 25 per cent of individuals in that particular tower who end up developing coronavirus and potentially more,” he said.
“Obviously five days of quarantine have been done already where people have stayed in their apartments, but there are another nine days that will be required for people to be in quarantine in that particular tower.”
Professor Sutton said anybody who developed an illness and contracted the coronavirus would need to isolate until they are clear of it.
“If they require care outside of that tower, then obviously that will be facilitated,” he told reporters.
“Anyone who requires emergency assistance can obviously get it. But they need to stay in quarantine until a 14-day period is completed.”
On Thursday Victoria announced 165 new coronavirus cases and said 159 positive cases were confirmed among the towers after conducting about 2515 tests.
For the eight other towers not under hard lockdown, Professor Sutton said new cases could emerge over the coming days. However the numbers in the towers currently are significantly less.
Of the eight other towers two have no cases while six have a substantially low number.
“For some just a few cases, for others several, we really need to have an intensive monitoring program. Obviously for all of those cases in those towers, they need to remain in isolation,” he said.
“For all their close contacts, they need to remain quarantined.”
Residents of the towers at 9 Pampas Street and 159 Melrose Street will move to the same stage 3 restrictions as Greater Melbourne, and can go out for the four reasons – shopping for essentials, exercise, medical care and school or work.
“But there are vulnerable individuals in those towers and they need to be extremely mindful of the potential risk in bringing back the virus into those settings,” Professor Sutton warned.
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