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Melbourne public housing residents give insight into life in COVID-19 lockdown

Residents locked inside Melbourne public housing towers linked to an explosion of coronavirus cases in the city have issued a ‘list of demands’ to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.

Angry residents of nine high-rise blocks across Melbourne say they should be able to leave their homes for essential reasons, just like others in locked down suburbs.

They have also demanded all police officers be removed from the buildings. 

Mr Andrews announced the extreme decision after 108 new cases were recorded on Saturday – the worst result since March 28, the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The nine housing commission towers in Flemington, Kensington and North Melbourne have been linked to at least 23 coronavirus cases across 12 households.

Videos shared to social media by residents give an insight into life inside the towers – including arguments with police and a swarm of health officials beginning the mass testing process.

A letter distributed throughout the towers and seen by Daily Mail Australia states that any residents of the building who refuse a COVID-19 test will be detained for 15 days.

Residents locked inside the nine Melbourne public housing towers deemed to be COVID-19 hotspots have issued a ‘list of demands’ to Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured)

Footage shared by residents shows health officials dressed in protective gear beginning the testing process

Every resident of the nine public housing towers will be tested for COVID-19, or be detained for 15 days if they refuse

Footage shared by residents shows health officials dressed in protective gear beginning the testing process. Every resident of the nine public housing towers will be tested for COVID-19

A letter distributed throughout the towers and seen by Daily Mail Australia (pictured) states that any residents of the building who refuse a COVID-19 test will be detained for 15 days

A letter distributed throughout the towers and seen by Daily Mail Australia (pictured) states that any residents of the building who refuse a COVID-19 test will be detained for 15 days

One video also showed residents using stairwells to move throughout the buildings, despite police being stationed on every floor to prevent gatherings.

As they walked up and down a stairwell, the group of young residents played a song by rapper Akon that features the lyrics: ‘I’m locked up, they won’t let me out.’

Other footage shared by residents shows health officials dressed in protective gear beginning the testing process. 

All residents of the towers will be tested for COVID-19 and with a negative test will be allowed to leave quarantine after five days.

If residents refuse to be tested they will be isolated for a further 10 days, a letter seen by Daily Mail Australia states.

‘You will be detained for a further 10 days from the end of the initial detention period if you refuse to be tested for COVID-19 at the request of an authorised official,’ reads the letter.

‘This detention will be required because, having regard to the medical advice, this further detention is reasonably necessary for the purpose of eliminating or reducing a serious risk.’ 

Tensions were high on Saturday night as residents complained at not being prepared for the ‘hard lockdown’ and being left without supplies.

They say that almost immediately after Mr Andrews’ announcement police began to swarm the towers to ensure none of the residents left. 

Photos taken by residents inside the buildings showed police stationed at every exit out of the locked down towers

Photos taken by residents inside the buildings showed police stationed at every exit out of the locked down towers

Public housing resident Najat Mussa (pictured) shared photos to social media giving an insight into life in lockdown

Public housing resident Najat Mussa (pictured) shared photos to social media giving an insight into life in lockdown

Food and drink packages were delivered to residents by police on Saturday night

Some complained they did not receive essentials such as bread and milk

Food and drink packages (right) were delivered to residents by police (left) on Saturday night but some complained they did not receive essentials such as bread and milk

The 74 new cases in Victoria and 14 new cases in NSW take the total across Australia to 8.174

The 74 new cases in Victoria and 14 new cases in NSW take the total across Australia to 8.174

Victoria Police have confirmed officers will be stationed on every floor of ever tower.

In one exchange, as a father and daughter tried to leave to buy bread and milk they were told by a police officer: ‘Go and sleep inside your building’.

‘You have no right and authority to tell me what to do, or what not to do,’ the young woman responded.

Signs have also been placed throughout the towers declaring an ’emergency area’.

‘This building and immediate surroundings are the subject of a declared emergency area,’ the sign read.

‘Victoria Police are satisfied the building and surrounds are subject to an emergency due to the actual or imminent occurrence of an even endangering safety or health.’ 

Residents in the towers subjected to the ‘hard lockdown’ are among the state’s most vulnerable.

Many have fled war or family violence and are dealing with mental illness, disability and low income. 

More than 3,000 residents in towers across Flemington, Kensington and North Melbourne will be couped up inside their homes for at least five days

More than 3,000 residents in towers across Flemington, Kensington and North Melbourne will be couped up inside their homes for at least five days

The towers will be closed and contained, and the only people allowed in and out will be those providing essential services

The towers will be closed and contained, and the only people allowed in and out will be those providing essential services

A resident comes out to speak to police at the North Melbourne public housing flats on Sunday before returning inside

A resident comes out to speak to police at the North Melbourne public housing flats on Sunday before returning inside

Police wearing masks speak to a woman outside the North Melbourne building before

Police wearing masks speak to a woman outside the North Melbourne building before 

Signs have also been placed throughout the towers declaring an 'emergency area' (pictured)

Signs have also been placed throughout the towers declaring an ’emergency area’ (pictured)

Within hours a list of ‘lockdown residents’ demands’ began circling online, included on the list was a suspension of rent.

Mr Andrews announced on Sunday that residents will not have to pay rent in the next fortnight and that employed workers who can not go to work will receive $1,500.

 I thank each and every one of them for that seemingly small contribution…

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to people who have been tested

The premier thanked those in the towers and those who have been tested for helping to stop the second wave that is currently ravaging the state. 

‘I thank each and every one of them for that seemingly small contribution, but I really massive part of our public health response,’ Mr Andrews said.

‘The whole strategy depends on knowing where the virus is putting in place the appropriate contact tracing and public health interventions to contain the virus.

‘Without the testing numbers, without people coming forward and giving their time and consenting to a test, that is incredibly difficult to know.’  

A distraught woman was pulled from her car by police outside a Melbourne public housing tower on Sunday

A distraught woman was pulled from her car by police outside a Melbourne public housing tower on Sunday

As the woman attempted to drive out of the carpark of one of the high-rise buildings, an officer chased her down and grabbed her by the coat

As the woman attempted to drive out of the carpark of one of the high-rise buildings, an officer chased her down and grabbed her by the coat

The woman sat outside the building on Racecourse Road and spoke with police for several moments before being taken away

The woman sat outside the building on Racecourse Road and spoke with police for several moments before being taken away 

CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 8,066

New South Wales: 3,225

Victoria: 2,536

Queensland: 1,067

Western Australia: 611

South Australia: 443

Tasmania: 228

Australian Capital Territory: 108

Northern Territory: 30

TOTAL CASES: 8,174

RECOVERED: 7,092

CURRENT ACTIVE CASES: 576 

DEATHS: 104

A distraught woman from one of the public housing towers was pulled from her car by police as she tried to leave the carpark on Sunday morning. 

Shocking photos of the disturbing incident show the woman driving her vehicle out of the carpark on Racecourse Road, Flemington, as a police officer chases after her.

Eventually catching up to the woman, he leans inside the open driver’s side window and grabs her by the jacket at which point she slows down the vehicle. 

After several other police officers rushed to help, the visibly shaken woman was taken away and questioned. 

Victoria Police said no individuals have been arrested since lockdown inside the public housing towers began.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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