Melbourne Tower Hard Lockdown Ends

July 18, 2020 Updated: July 18, 2020

Public housing residents in North Melbourne are coming out of a two-week hard lockdown after a COVID-19 outbreak prompted the state government to take strict measures.

The enforced shut-in of public housing residents at 33 Alfred Street since July 4 ended late Saturday night, meaning they can now leave their homes for food, medicine, exercise, study and work – like the rest of Melbourne.

However, up to one-third of the tower’s residents, who either have the virus or are a close contact of someone who does, will be required to remain in their units until they’re cleared.

AMSSA (Australian Muslim Social Services Agency) Youth Connect, a not-for-profit community organisation based in North Melbourne, told AAP many of the Alfred Street residents will be in great need of allied health, psychological support and new employment.

A social worker for the organisation, Adna Abdikadir, said the two-week complete lockdown had been “really upsetting and really traumatising” for many.

Victoria’s ombudsman is investigating the treatment of people across the Alfred Street tower and eight other towers that were shut down for five days in July.

Repeated concerns have been raised about communication with the residents, their access to food, exercise, fresh air, medical supplies and care.

Victorian authorities are cautiously optimistic that stage three restrictions are working after Saturday’s fresh case numbers were almost half that of Friday’s.

There were 217 new cases on July 18 compared to 428 on July 17, prompting Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton to express relief.

Three new deaths recorded on July 18 brought the state’s COVID-19 death toll to 35 and the national toll to 119.

There are 2,608 active cases of which 110 are in hospital, including 25 in intensive care and 18 on ventilators.

The number of healthcare workers infected with COVID-19 is 405.

Aged care homes in Ballarat and Bendigo have become the latest aged care outbreaks, adding to clusters at multiple aged care facilities in Melbourne.

The outbreak at Truganina’s Al-Taqwa College is at 164 cases while there are 33 cases linked to Brooklyn’s JBS abattoir.

An inquiry into Victoria’s bungled hotel quarantine scheme will start on July 20 led by retired judge Jennifer Coate.

The inquiry was instigated by Premier Daniel Andrews after it was revealed protocol breaches by security guards at two Melbourne hotels led to outbreaks.

By Andi Yu