News National ‘Substantial’ coronavirus outbreak at Victorian tower

‘Substantial’ coronavirus outbreak at Victorian tower

A sign in a window at one of the public housing towers on Racecourse Road in Flemington, Melbourne. Photo: AAP
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Almost 160 residents living in Melbourne’s nine locked-down public housing towers have coronavirus, with more than 2500 results processed.

That has prompted a three-pronged strategy from authorities, with one of the towers to stay in “hard lockdown” for another nine days.

Health officials have announced 158 people among the 2515 tower residents have tested positive to coronavirus, and more cases are expected.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said 33 Alfred Street in North Melbourne will remain in “hard lockdown” after 53 people there tested positive to COVID-19.

“They need to stay in quarantine until a 14 day period is completed. For all the other towers, we will have new cases emerge in coming days, but the numbers are relatively less,” Prof Sutton said.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton and Health Minister Jenny Mikakos.

Melrose Street and Pampas Street did not have any cases of COVID-19 and the other six towers have low case numbers, Mr Andrews said.

“Every other tower except for Alfred St, they will be treated the same as every other resident across metropolitan Melbourne – stage three (restrictions),” Premier Daniel Andrews said on Thursday.

“But of course, if you’ve tested positive, or if you are in close contact, then you must isolate. We will provide support to each and every one of those people who have tested positive or who are a close contact.”

The residents in the nine towers were tested for COVID-19 by Wednesday, after being put into lockdown without warning on Saturday.

About 3000 residents live in the nine towers. Children were not tested unless a parent returned a positive test.

Premier Daniel Andrews. Photo: AAP

Mr Andrews apologised for the delay in addressing the public on Thursday but said there were many tests that had to be processed, analysis done and then an appropriate public health response developed.

“If we don’t all … continue to work together and take this as seriously as we have to, then we simply won’t bring stability to these numbers, let alone drive them down and get to the end of this six week period,” Mr Andrews said on Thursday.

“Everything is on the line here , and we need to make sure that we’re all playing our part.”

Support services, food and medical care are still available to the residents in the Flemington and North Melbourne towers.

Food donated from charities and individuals have been taken to the buildings, but some tenants say they are yet to get any.

“To be honest, we are not being looked after,” Abdi Ish told The Briefing podcast on Thursday.

“The officers downstairs, they’re not letting nobody take anything upstairs, they are only giving us Weetbix and milk, nothing else,” he said.