Australia

‘PEOPLE WILL DIE’: Lockdown warning as Victoria cases rise again

Benedict Brook

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has laid out support measures for the thousands of residents of the nine public housing blocks that are currently in strict lockdown.

No rent will be charged for the next for the next two weeks.

Those who are employed, and cannot go to work, will receive a $1500 hardship payment. For those households where there is no-one in employment, they will receive a $750 hardship payment.

He added there would be support to provide food, essentials, drug and alcohol support, mental health support, family violence support, physical healthcare and support for those who have preexisting medical conditions.

"There will be a single point of contact for each and every one of those 3000 residents so that they can have everything from just wanting to talk to somebody about their circumstances all the way through to very specific and detailed requests to meet their needs."

Benedict Brook

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has said "people could die" if the nine blocks were not shut down.

"This is not going to be a pleasant experience for those residents but this is not about punishment but protection," he said this morning.

Daniel Andrews said the "hard lockdown" was not a punishment.

"We cannot have a cohort of people, many of whom are in poor health to start with. We cannot have this virus spread. We have to do everything we can to contain the virus and that is why

staying in your unit, staying in your flat, is absently essential.

"If we have a large group of people who already have preexisting and underlying health challenges infected with this virus then people will die."

Andrews said every single resident would be tested.

"I expect that everybody will consent to a test, because the sooner we have the testing process concluded, the sooner we will be able to make decisions based on the data, the results of those tests, about the restrictions that are appropriate for those nine towers."

Benedict Brook

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has said there have been 74 new cases of coronavirus in the state overnight.

There were 108 new infections yesterday, the second highest in the state since the pandemic began.

Of the new cases 53 of those are under investigation. There are 26 Victorians in hospital, and three of those are in intensive care, Andrews said.

To stem new infections, the government increased the number of suburbs in lockdown with nine public housing blocks now completely off limits with residents forced to remain in doors for at least five days.

Earlier, the Premier announced on Instagram that every household that activity boxes with Lego, games and puzzles would be delivered to all kids in the nine blocks.

Benedict Brook

New South Wales recorded a double digit increase in new COVID-19 infections on Sunday.

There were 14 new cases diagnosed in the 24 hours to 8pm last night, bringing the total number of cases to 3230.

However, all new cases were in returned overseas travellers now in hotel quarantine. As Victoria has put a ban on international arrivals while it sorts out the hotel quarantine debacle, flights are heading to Sydney and other cities instead.

Four residents of Newmarch House, which had been a coronavirus cluster, tested negative for COVID-19 on Saturday after displaying symptoms of respiratory illness.

A passenger tested for COVID-19 after arriving in Sydney by train on Saturday morning has returned a negative result. This person was a NSW resident who got on the XPT train in regional NSW, not Victoria, and then self-presented with influenza like illness at Central Station.

There are 69 COVID-19 cases being treated by NSW Health, with one in intensive care. This person does not require a ventilator, said NSW Health in a statement.

Benedict Brook

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has said the state will send 27 nurses south to Victoria to help that state with its coronavuirus outbreak.

The sunshine state has them to spare with just a single active case of COVID-19 in the entirety of Queensland.

This morning, the premier announced there were no new cases in Queensland – about a stark a contrast as you can get with Victoria which announced 108 new infections yesterday.

Benedict Brook

Premier Daniel Andrews has been slammed as "deeply unimpressive" and "incompetent" following the state's surge in cases amid claims the hotel quarantine program was so badly managed some guards took guests on shopping trips.

Speaking on the ABC's Insiders program this morning, Peter Hartcher of the Sydney Morning Herald let fly.

"This is clearly incompetence. It is just deeply unimpressive that the state Government could allow the situation to go from the virus close to elimination to now being raging again, and having to have state borders reinforced against Victorians," he told host David Speers.

Hartcher asked why nobody in the state Government had been removed due to the errors.

"Not only is this a failure of accountability and responsibility, but the underlying flaws, the bungling of this hotel quarantine – what on earth was going on?

"The stories emerging suggest a completely ramshackle approach with a lack of any rigour."

The SMH's Peter Hartcher had a few choice words on Premier Andrew's handling of the crisis.

The ABC's Andrew Probyn was equally unimpressed.

"Let's just turn our minds back to January when we saw the Chinese apartments being welded up and we were looking on that with horror and we were amazed that such activity can take place.

"Well, it has been done in Victoria, in a democracy just without the welding, but with 500 police.

"It is quite extraordinary to see this on Australian soil," said Probyn.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is coming in for criticism.

"These are disadvantaged, vulnerable people. I understand there were very few language translators on the ground but lots of cops, so my instant view would be one of concerns for those inside who might feel threatened by the presence of police or worried about their future. It would be a very, very awful time."

Hartcher added that what was happening in Victoria was lesson that there has been no "mission accomplished moment" yet.

"We cannot return to normal. Until there is a vaccine, there is only physical separation of humans from each other to prevent the virus from transmitting.

"I think this concept of back to normal, it's all over, party time, is going to lead to other states making the same mistake if they replicate that behaviour."

Benedict Brook

Vast swathes of Melbourne's northern and western suburbs are back into lockdown this weekend with residents of nine public housing estates now unable to leave their homes at all in the strictest quarantine measures Australia has ever seen.

However, the breadth of where yesterday's 108 cases came from has fuelled fears Premier Daniel Andrews may extend the lockdown even further.

RELATED: Drastic measures Victoria needs to consider to battle COVID-19

Victoria's health department yesterday confirmed two vendors at Preston Market in the city's north while three cases are linked to Epping Hospital.

Two workers at Preston Market, in the city's north, have been confirmed as having contracted coronavirus.

“While it is not thought that any customers (at Preston Market) have been exposed, this is a timely reminder to Victorians to maintain physical distance while in retail and shopping environments,” the Department said in a statement.

Cases were also confirmed in a school teacher and two workers at a major office of Optus.

In recent days, Andrews has warned that he is ready to extend lockdowns to further postcodes or even the entire state if health officials feel that's what's needed to bring the latest outbreak under control.

Sam Clench

A piece of good news – all four residents of the Newmarch House aged care home in Sydney who were tested for the virus on Saturday have returned a negative result.

The facility was at the centre of one of the country's biggest coronavirus clusters with a number of deaths.

The residents of the western Sydney facility had presented with flu-like symptoms, sparking fears of another outbreak.

You can read more at this link.

RELATED: Nursing home scare in Sydney

Benedict Brook

A father of five children under five has hit out at the Victorian Government's full lockdown of nine public housing blocks, including one his family lives at.

Abdirahman Ibrahim said he sat down to watch the news and only then learned that his building was going into lockdown.

Thinking he had until 11.59pm on Saturday like other residents in his postcode, the 27-year-old ran downstairs to buy formula for his seven-month-old twins but was stopped by police.

Just two hours prior, Premier Daniel Andrews had announced a "hard" lockdown for nine public housing towers in North Melbourne and Flemington, effective immediately.

Police swarmed the estates, blocking driveways and doorways and barring people from going out.

Police gathering outside the public housing flats in Flemington yesterday.

Victoria recorded 108 new virus cases on Saturday, including a cluster of up to 30 cases across a few housing estates.

The government's decision to lock down all nine towers was made because of "patterns of movement, friendship groups, family groups," the premier said.

He also cited the crowded living in public housing and many communal spaces, meaning community transmission was high risk.

Mr Ibrahim, a Somali-Australian who has lived in Australia for 10 years after fleeing his war-torn homeland, said he couldn't find out how to get his specific needs met.

His household supplies are low as he and his wife do their weekly shop on Sundays.

They need formula for the baby twins, nappies, milk, weetbix, soap, toothpaste, laundry powder, fruit, vegetables and meat.

"This is not fair," Mr Ibrahim told AAP.

"There are a lot of postcodes in lockdown but they are allowed to leave the house for essentials.

One of the blocks that is now in hard lockdown.

"What the Victorian government is doing is discriminating the people who don't have a voice.

"We are not different from the rest of the Victorian community which is in lockdown now."

Mr Ibrahim is a casual pick-packer in a warehouse in Melbourne's west and is not paid if he doesn't turn up.

He said the imprisonment imposed on him felt like he'd gone back in time to the trauma his family ran from.

The premier's office told AAP urgent requests for food and supplies were being triaged via Victoria Police and health department officials on site and interpreters are assisting.

The state government has financial support for those who cannot attend work because of home isolation.

– AAP

Benedict Brook

Just hours after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews locked down nine public housing apartment blocks, almost $150,000 has been raised to help support residents who are no longer able to leave their homes.

The inner-city towers, in Flemington and North Melbourne, are fully locked down for five days with the area cordoned off to the general public, after another 108 cases of coronavirus were announced on Saturday.

Many vulnerable people live in the flats, including the elderly adn those with health conditions.

The Victorian Trades Hall set up the fundraising website yesterday and at the time of writing had hit $145,575.

Funds will be used to help residents through employment advice, representation and direct financial support.

“The burden of public crises is usually shouldered by those already in precarious situations,” a statement on the fundraiser reads.

“This is unfair. It should be our work to make sure this isn’t the case again.

“The Victorian union movement will work with community groups, residents and the Victorian Government to ensure every dollar raised goes to residents.”

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