Victoria’s staggering rise in locally acquired coronavirus cases is unprecedented and a threat to the whole nation, politicians and medical experts warned today.
Since last Monday Victoria has detected 628 new patients, only 13 of whom are returned overseas travellers in hotel quarantine.
This is radically different from the spike in cases across several states in late March and early April which saw large numbers of returning Australians test positive.
Locally acquired cases are more dangerous because the patients are not in quarantine and can more easily transmit the virus around the community.
This graph shows the number of locally acquired cases that Victoria has suffered since last Monday
Victoria’s staggering rise in locally acquired coronavirus cases is unprecedented. Pictured: Covid testing in Melbourne on Monday
Residents locked inside the Melbourne tower block put a sign in the window
Since last Monday Victoria has detected 632 new patients, only 13 of whom are returned overseas travellers in hotel quarantine. Pictured: Police at a Melbourne housing estate
A resident looks from a window at one of nine public housing estates locked down due a spike in COVID-19 coronavirus numbers in Melbourne
Paul Komesaroff, Professor of Medicine at Monash University, told Daily Mail Australia the situation in Victoria, where 12 postcodes have been put back into lockdown, is alarming.
‘It is an extremely dangerous situation and the safety of the entire country is at stake,’ he said.
‘Clearly there is a major problem that has required draconian measures which should be supported by Victorians to protect their safety.
Professor Komesaroff said he supported the border shut downs and localised lockdown measures which have proved successful in other countries such as South Korea and Singapore.
‘This a very different situation that we haven’t seen previously and we have to do what he have to do,’ he said.
He added that 3,000 public housing residents placed under total lockdown in north Melbourne should be given as much support as possible because many are refugees who have already been through ‘significant trauma’.
Workers in personal protective equipment are seen entering the Flemington Towers Government Housing complex on Monday
Residents look from a window at one of nine public housing estates locked down due a spike in COVID-19 coronavirus numbers in Melbourne
Residents of the Flemington Towers Government Housing complex are tested for COVID-19 on Monday
Playground equipment with caution tape is seen outside a public housing tower along Racecourse Road in Melbourne on Monday
Victoria recorded 127 new coronavirus cases on Monday – all locally acquired – and two deaths, prompting New South Wales to shut the border for the first time in 101 years.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the situation was ‘very different’ to the previous spike earlier this year.
‘The vast majority of cases that New South Wales and other states were experiencing were from overseas travellers or the direct contacts,’ she said.
‘All of the cases that the Premier Andrews announced today are from community transmission.
‘This is unprecedented in Australia. That is why the decision of the New South Wales Government [to shut the border] is unprecedented. We have not seen anything like this.’
Former Labor leader and MP for Maribyrnong, Bill Shorten, delivers food to the Flemington Towers Government Housing on Monday
Mr Shorten waved to cameras as he helped out. Victoria recorded 127 new coronavirus cases on Monday – all locally acquired
Police have been patrolling the commission flats at 120 Racecourse Road in Flemington
The decision to shut the NSW-VIC border was agreed by both premiers and the Prime Minister in a three-way phone call this morning after NSW Chief Medical Officer Dr Kerry Chant recommended the move at 8am.
The hard border will be enforced by New South Wales Police and the Australian Defence Force at all 55 crossings with roadblocks and drones to keep Victorian officers free to battle the state’s outbreak.
There are four major road crossing, 33 bridges, two waterway crossings and dozens of minor road crossings, as well as dirt tracks and bushland trails.
NSW Police Comission Mick Fuller said: ‘The task is not lost on me, in terms of the enormity of the logistics in this operation alone.’
A member of the Australian Defence Force carries a batch of swab samples taken from members of the public at a drive-through COVID-19 testing clinic in Melbourne
How will NSW-VIC border shut-down work?
The border will close from 12.01am Wednesday morning
It will be be enforced from the NSW side with roadblocks, drones and helicopters
Permit system will be used for people with unavoidable travel to NSW
People living in border communities will be able to travel for work and essential health services
Specific arrangements will be set up for healthcare in Albury-Wodonga – Victoria runs the Albury Hospital even though it is located in NSW
The policy marks the first time the border between the two neighbours has been closed since between January and April in 1919, during the Spanish Flu outbreak.
Residents who live on the border will be able to apply for a permit from Service New South Wales allowing them to cross.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian refused to say how long the closure would last and urged other states to remove their borders with NSW to boost the economy.
‘I say to all the other states around Australia, use this as an opportunity to now take off your borders with New South Wales,’ she said.
NSW recorded 10 new coronavirus patients, all locked up in hotel quarantine.
Earlier Mr Andrews announced that a Victorian man in his 90s has died, bringing the national death toll to 105.
Victoria has recorded more than 60 new cases of coronavirus a day since last Monday. Today’s new daily case count of 127 exceeds the state’s previous record of 111 on March 28.
Twelve Melbourne postcodes containing more than 300,000 residents were on Thursday forced back into lockdown and 3,000 residents of nine social housing towers were on Saturday totally banned from leaving their homes.
Twenty-six of Monday’s new cases are linked to the nine towers in Flemington, Kensington and North Melbourne where all residents are being tested.
The towers have now suffered a total of 53 coronavirus cases.
Meanwhile, West Australian premier Mark McGowan has asked the Prime Minister for a formal cap on numbers coming in to the state from overseas. He wants no more than one flight every three days.
He is also drafting legislation to make returned travellers pay for their own enforced quarantine.
Workers in hazardous material overalls are seen outside of a public housing tower along Racecourse Road, Melbourne that was placed under lockdown due to the coronavirus disease
‘There is no excuse’: Gladys Berejiklian demands open borders with all states except Victoria
After closing the border to Victoria. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who has consistently argued against border closures, said other states have ‘no excuse’ for excluding residents of NSW, which recorded only 10 new cases on Monday, all from hotel quarantine.
‘I also stress to the other states, now that New South Wales has taken this decision and given where we are, there is really no excuse for any other state, apart from Victoria, to have any border closures with New South Wales,’ she said.
‘I urge all the other states of Australia, in our national interest, to think about that.
Premier Gladys Berejikian has demanded that all states and territories except Victoria open their borders with New South Wales
‘Given this move by the New South Wales Government, we now anticipate that the rest of the nation will be able to deal with each other directly without any hard border closures.’
Queensland is due to remove its hard border on 10 July except to Victorians while the Northern Territory is due to open up on the 17 July, except to residents from Melbourne hotspots.
South Australia said it would open up to eastern states on 20 July but has postponed that decision due to the Victorian outbreak.
Tasmania is targeting the 24 July but said it will ‘keep an eye’ on developments, while WA is yet to announce any relaxation of border measures.
Last month Ms Berejiklian slammed the Queensland government for refusing to open its borders to boost the economy.
Asked if she felt ‘silly’ because she was now herself shutting the NSW-VIC border she said ‘not at all’ because the situation in Victoria is ‘very different’ as it involves widespread community transmission.