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Melbourne lockdown: Public housing towers return to stage 3 restrictions –

Melbourne lockdown: Public housing towers return to stage 3 restrictions



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The hard lockdown at eight of Melbournes nine public housing towers has finally been eased with residents, stuck inside for days, celebrating their relative freedom last night.But the final tower, where 480 people live, is facing another nine days in lockdown after it recorded dozens of coronavirus cases.
The 33 Alfred St tower in North Melbourne, where at least 53 cases have been identified since Thursday, will serve out the rest of their 14-day quarantine inside.
The health department has promised “daily exercise will be scheduled and supervised” for the hundreds of tenants.
Residents from the remaining eight towers yelled “I’m free” as they were allowed out for a walk at midnight last night.
Richard Tam, who lives in one of the towers, told the Herald Sunhis time inside felt like prison.
“I was stuck on my floor, not allowed outside at all, no freedom. It was like a prison,” he said.
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Aman Aliyi, 26, gave his thanks to the Australian police and told reporters the hard lockdown had been OK.
“I liked it because we were staying away from all this trouble and the outbreaks going on outside,” he said.
“I think they had to do it. It’s an experience. You get used to it. My thanks to the Australian police.”
Victoria recorded 165 new cases of coronavirus yesterday, another 100-plus daily increase for the virus-stricken state.
The residents from the eight towers join millions of Victorians under a six-week lockdown with four reasons to leave home.
Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services undertook a “testing blitz” of the nine addresses in Flemington and North Melbourne, with chief health officer Professor Brett Sutton announcing yesterday “the next steps that can now be taken across both estates”.
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“In just five days, 2515 residents have been tested, identifying 158 positive cases. Work is ongoing to identify all close contacts,” the department said in a statement.
“The highest number of cases have been found at 33 Alfred Street, North Melbourne, with at least 53 confirmed cases. This represents around 11 per cent of residents.
“Given such a high number of positive cases and the unknown source of much of the transmission, our health experts have advised that, just as with an aged care facility, all residents of 33 Alfred St will be classed as close contacts who must isolate for 14 days in total.
“We’ll continue to support these Victorians with food, back to school resources and any other kind of assistance they might need as they stay home and stay safe. Daily exercise will be scheduled and supervised.
“Onsite medical teams will continue to provide medical care and regular testing of these residents – ensuring we have the insight and information we need to guide future decisions.”
Premier Daniel Andrews said the 14-day isolation period for those at the Alfred St tower, including the five days that have passed since Saturday, would continue to be enforced by police.
“That is an abundance-of-caution approach that not only protects the welfare and the wellbeing, the health, of all of those residents, but also protects public health as well,” he said.
Police Minister Lisa Neville said it would be “really tough” for the next nine days but the message from health authorities was “very clear”.
“We can’t allow people to be moving across floors or in lifts because it is such a high-risk environment in that particular tower,” she said.
There were no cases diagnosed in residents at 9 Pampas St and 159 Melrose St, meaning tenants at those addresses moved to stage three stay at home restrictions from Thursday.
“Towers at 12 Sutton St, 76 Canning St, 12 Holland Ct, 120 Racecourse Rd, 126 Racecourse Rd and 130 Racecourse Rd will reopen from 11:59pm (Thursday) – ensuring that when these residents leave their home for one of the four reasons, they can do so safely,” the DHHS said in a statement yesterday.

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