About 3,000 people in nine public housing towers in the Australian city of Melbourne are now confined to their homes due to Covid-19 outbreaks, Victorian state Premier Daniel Andrews said Saturday.
The “hard lockdown” is effective immediately and will continue for at least five days, he said. Every resident will be tested for the coronavirus.
Police will monitor the buildings, and no one will be allowed in or out, Andrews said. This is the first time that such an order has been issued in Australia since the pandemic began.
“We at no point underestimate how challenging this will be for vulnerable people in public housing towers,” Andrews said. It will be a “massive logistical task to make sure people are fed and given the support that they need.”
Two postcodes have been added to 10 areas of Melbourne already subject to a softer stay-at-home order. The hundreds of thousands of people in those 12 areas are allowed to leave their homes for “shopping for food supplies, care and care-giving, exercise, study or work if it can’t be done from home,” Andrews said.
“You are on the frontline on the fight against this virus, we are proud of you and we understand you need support,” he added, addressing people under lockdown. “Your sacrifice is central to the safety of every Victorian family – you have our gratitude.”
A total of 108 new Covid-19 cases were detected in Victoria on Friday -- the state's worst day since March 21 and second-worst since the pandemic began.
As of Saturday, Australia has recorded 8,261 coronavirus cases and 104 related deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.