'I have to see my daughter': Isolated parents banned from seeing baby

Kamilia Palu
·News Editor
·4-min read

A mother is being kept apart from her baby girl as part of extreme isolation measures in one of Melbourne’s public housing towers.

Hannah Mohamed is desperate to see her two-month-old daughter, Hanen, but is one of 3000 residents being contained inside the housing blocks where 75 residents have been infected with COVID-19.

Hanen was born prematurely and remains in hospital.

“Because I have locked down I am not able to see my daughter,” Mrs Mohamed told 7News over a phone call.

“And also I am not able to give her my milk.”

Hannah Mohamed says she is desperate to see her daughter. Source: 7News
Hannah Mohamed says she is desperate to see her daughter. Source: 7News

To make matters worse, Mrs Mohamed was told by hospital staff that her daughter is also sick.

“They say your daughter she’s been sick and she gets a runny nose and cough and we did the COVID test for her,” she said.

“I really want to see my daughter, especially now she is sick.”

“It is very, very important because I have to see my daughter,” the little girl’s father added.

After appealing for help, authorities collected an esky containing breast milk from the lockdown zone to take to hospital, although Mrs Mohamed is still unsure when she will be able to see her daughter.

Mrs Mohamed is banned from visiting her daughter, Hanen, who was born premature. Source: 7News
Mrs Mohamed is banned from visiting her daughter, Hanen, who was born premature. Source: 7News

Around 500 police are guarding the entrances and corridors of the nine housing towers.

The hard lockdown, which has been in place since Saturday afternoon, will be eased as soon as coronavirus testing is completed. They will then revert to the provisions of the new six-week lockdown announced on Tuesday for the rest of the city.

The lockdown order is in place for 14 days but Premier Daniel Andrews is "very confident" testing of all residents would be finished by Wednesday.

"I again say to every single resident in those towers you will be under these restrictions for not a moment longer than you need to be," he said.

Police patrols are seen outside public housing towers in Flemington. Source: AAP
Police patrols are seen outside public housing towers in Flemington. Source: AAP

It's hoped the lockdown will be scaled back once a "detailed plan" is made to reduce transmission of coronavirus among residents.

"We haven't got to that point yet," Mr Andrews said.

"We need to have a complete picture across those towers, given that there are real communities of interest."

Victoria reported 134 new infections on Wednesday, down from the previous day's record of 191 but well over the low single digit daily increases elsewhere in the country.

Food, supplies turned away from towers

Authorities on Tuesday apologised for the delay in delivering donated food and supplies to the thousands of residents in the towers.

Donations were turned away from some of the towers in Flemington and North Melbourne on Monday night.

They spent the first two days relying on deliveries of food and supplies from the state government, some of which was expired, insufficient or culturally inappropriate, such as pork being provided to Muslim families.

Children play near police patrols outside the public housing towers where 3000 residents are in hard lockdown. Source: AAP
Children play near police patrols outside the public housing towers where 3000 residents are in hard lockdown. Source: AAP

The Melbourne Public Tenants Association said residents had been left in the dark since the lockdown was enforced on Saturday.

In a letter to the federal acting chief medical officer, the DHHS, Mr Andrews and Victoria Police, the association described the government-provided food during the first two days as "at best, questionable pre-packaged meat-like food items that do not look suitable for human consumption.

"Furthermore, the delivery of the food was tossed to the floor on a single piece of paper in front of the residents' apartment doors in small portions of one food item per household."

A woman looks out from a window inside a unit at the public housing tower along Racecourse Road in Melbourne. Source: AAP
A woman looks out from a window inside a unit at the public housing tower along Racecourse Road in Melbourne. Source: AAP

Voices from the Blocks, a coalition of residents and community members, said they were horrified to see donated items being confiscated by authorities.

"(We) watched in horror last night as food, medicine, and essentials like nappies and baby formula were suddenly confiscated by authorised officers," the group said on Tuesday.

The Department of Health and Human Services acknowledged there were "some delays with accepting donations and deliveries, which caused confusion at ​some housing estates that are in lockdown".

"We apologise for the inconvenience and frustration caused and thank the residents for their co-operation and patience."

The donations have since been returned to the towers.

- with AAP, Reuters

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