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Monday, August 10, 2020

Melbourne’s “hard blockade” orders residents of nine public housing towers to stay home while coronavirus cases increase | Coronavirus epidemic

Three thousand people living in nine public housing towers in Melbourne have been placed under the strictest blocking rules for the coronavirus pandemic in Australia so far and have been prohibited from leaving their homes for at least five days.

The Victorian government’s decision to block all nine towers was made because of “movement patterns, friendship groups, family groups,” said the premier.

Daniel Andrews also cited crowded living in public housing and many common spaces, which meant that the transmission of the community was at high risk.

Five hundred police officers have been dispatched to monitor the nine towers of Flemington and North Melbourne and ensure that residents do not leave their small and often overcrowded units.

Apartment residents are among the most vulnerable and heavily supervised people in the state of Victoria, with a high population of new migrants, indigenous people, people with severe mental illness and people who have experienced family violence or homelessness.

Residents told Guardian Australia that they felt “identified” by the blockade order, which was implemented without warning at 4:00 pm and “intimidated” by the large police presence.

Andrews, announced the nine towers “security lockout” at the end of Saturday, at the same time as he announced that two new postal codes – 3031 and 3051, which include Flemington, Kensington, North Melbourne and Hotham Hill – would be placed on stage – three stay orders at home from midnight.

The difference between the over 300,000 people in Melbourne under third stage orders and the nine towers that home orders can leave their homes to exercise, shop, conduct essential care and participate in work or study if they can’t do it remotely.

Who lives in the towers cannot.

“If you are in one of those towers that the minister has just read, you will not be allowed to leave your unit, your home inside that tower, for any reason,” said Andrews.

He said the blockade would be in effect for at least five days because it was the time estimated by health officials to test every single resident of those units and get the test results. But the blockade could last 14 days, he said.

There are over 1,300 units in the nine towers. Residents were not warned before the premier made the announcement and the police arrived at their door. Andrews said the state government will organize food, health care and other essential services to be delivered to residents, but details of how it will work have not been made known or discussed with residents.

Housing minister Richard Wynne said that the people who live in these housing towers are “some of the most vulnerable people in our community.”

“Many of them are subject to comorbidities and we want to make sure we wrap them around all the services they will need, not only in the next five days or even potentially in the next 14 days, but going forward we provide them with all the support they need. to maintain their location but obviously also to maintain their well-being, “said Wynne.

But no social workers or other support services were observed on Saturday night outside the Flemington buildings – only armed police officers wearing gloves and face masks.

Hana, who shares a three-bedroom apartment in one of the towers of Racecourse Road with her mother and sister, said she returned from the grocery store immediately after 4pm to be greeted by an “intimidating” police presence.

“I was shocked,” he said. “I thought, I don’t know, there seemed to be some criminal activity or something, like a stabbing or something … I asked, ‘What happened?’ and they said, “Oh, there is an outbreak. You can’t leave the house. Park your car, you can’t leave the house. “”

Hana said it was unfair that the blocks of public housing had been locked when other large apartment buildings in the area were not, and also unfair that they had received no warning.

“You had other suburbs where they had 48 hours’ notice before they were put on hold,” he said. “How come we are different? It seems that we have been chosen. “

Another woman, who lives in 129 Racecourse Road, Flemington, said she received a text message while at the supermarket telling her not to leave the house.

Police car outside one of the residential complexes
Police cars outside one of the housing estates, whose residents are among the most vulnerable and heavily guarded people in Victoria. Photograph: William West / AFP / Getty Images

She said she was worried about her grandmother, who lives in a nearby block and requires visits from carers several times a day.

“I’m actually a little worried about my grandmother because she has assistants who come to feed her every day … and I don’t know what will happen next to the assistants and who will feed my grandmother,” he said. “So I hope they organized everything … it needs to be fed today.”

He said he expected the tower to be closed “at some point”.

Most of the people who lived there had tried to isolate themselves, he said, but with shared services it was impossible.

“It still depends on the elevators, which are shared, on our laundry room, which is shared, and even where waste is placed, there is a handle that we all need to keep touching to lift,” he said.

“So he would have gone around the apartments … I am glad that we are trying to limit it as much as possible but … I am not sure how they will do it because this is the first time it has happened here. We will do it every three or four weeks ? Because this will drive us crazy. “

The professor. Paul Kelly, chief official in Australia, said the blockade of public housing is “unprecedented”. Both he and Andrews confronted him with blocking a nursing home once an outbreak was found.

Kelly said that while these steps are unprecedented, given the vulnerability of many people living in the towers, doing anything else would be against public health advice.

“[That would] they represent an unacceptable risk to the health and well-being of those who live in the towers and, by extension, the health and well-being of each individual Victorian, “he said.

The blockade extension to 12 postcodes of 10 was done on the back of Victoria by recording 108 new cases of Covid-19 in 24 hours, the highest one-day increase in state figures since the peak of the national daily incidence of March 28 .

These new cases include 23 people living in the nine public housing towers, but Victoria’s deputy chief medical officer, dr. Annaliese van Diemen, said there are “hundreds” of high-risk close contacts scattered between the towers. If they weren’t blocked, he said, it would risk an “explosion” of new cases among vulnerable people living in residential complexes.

Nationally, Australia recorded 113 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours. New South Wales reported five quarantine cases in hotels and added 189 historical cases – mainly crew members of the cruise ship Ruby Princess – to its count for World Health Organization accounting purposes.

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