Australia

Coronavirus cases are surging in Melbourne. These public housing towers are now in total lockdown

The alarming rise in Victoria's COVID-19 cases, which surged by 108 on Saturday, has prompted an emergency meeting of Australia's top medical officials.

The alarming surge in Victoria's coronavirus cases has prompted an emergency meeting of medical officials from around Australia and an unprecedented lockdown of nine Melbourne public housing towers.

The state recorded 108 new cases on Saturday, the second-highest daily tally since the pandemic began, after weeks of double-digit daily rises.

The public housing blocks are being locked down for at least five days for testing, affecting 3000 residents and monitored by 500 police, while stay-at-home orders have been issued for a further two postcodes, bringing the total number of postcodes considered hot spots to 12.

Police are seen enforcing a lockdown at public housing towers on Racecourse Road in Flemington, Melbourne.
Police are seen enforcing a lockdown at public housing towers on Racecourse Road in Flemington, Melbourne.
AAP

Victorian deputy chief medical officer Annaliese van Diemen said there was an outbreak of up to 30 cases across the towers, blaming it on close-quarters living and many shared spaces.

Health workers will go door-to-door conducting tests.

Ahead of an emergency meeting of the nation's top medical officials on Saturday evening, federal acting chief medical officer Paul Kelly said a combined effort was needed to help the Victorian health system as much as possible.

More than 10,000 people in Victoria have refused tests, which Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese says is concerning, but he is unsure of the legal issues in trying to make the test compulsory.

NSW reported six new cases on Saturday, an 18-year old student from a Central Coast high school and five returned travellers in hotel quarantine.

At midnight, international arrivals in Sydney were capped at 450 a day in a bid to ensure the hotel quarantining system is not stretched to breaking point, with travellers seemingly avoiding Victoria and also Queensland, where the state government is now charging for accommodation.

Western Australia confirmed one historic infection, bringing the daily tally of new cases on Saturday to 115.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

Testing for coronavirus is widely available across Australia. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

The federal government's coronavirus tracing app COVIDSafe is available for download from your phone's app store.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

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