COVID-19 testing at Melbourne’s nine locked-down public housing towers is expected to be completed soon.
About 3000 residents in the Flemington and North Melbourne towers have been in a “hard lockdown” since the afternoon of July 4, unable to leave their apartments due to the virus outbreak.
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 told reporters.
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. We need to have a complete picture across those towers, given that there are real communities of interest,” Andrews said.
“There’s patterns of movement. There’s friendship groups. There’s all those things.”
Health authorities have previously described the high-density towers, which share lifts, corridors, rubbish and laundry facilities, as “vertical cruise ships” with “explosive potential” to spread COVID-19.
Two new cases were linked to the outbreak on Wednesday, while four old cases were reclassified, taking the total infection number to 75.
The Department of Health hasn’t released how many cases are in each of the nine towers.
When the hard lockdown ends, the residents will enter the newly announced six-week, stage three lockdown for the rest of the city.
It will mean they can leave their apartments to get food and supplies, receive or provide care, exercise, and study or work if they can’t do so from home.
Since lockdown, residents have relied on food and supply deliveries from the state government, some of which was expired, insufficient or culturally inappropriate, such as pork given to Muslims.
On the back of the state government tower lockdown, the City of Melbourne moved to create its own pandemic plans for public housing towers in Carlton and Kensington.
“The force-first support-last approach the state imposed on North Melbourne and Flemington communities is a failure and must not ever happen again,” councillor Rohan Leppert tweeted.
Benita Kolovos in Melbourne