Victoria has recorded 74 new cases of COVID-19, a significant drop from a day prior when the second highest numbers of the pandemic were recorded.
The state was on tenterhooks after 108 new cases were recorded on Saturday, three less than the state’s peak total of 111 which came on March 28.
Saturday’s big increase led Premier Daniel Andrews to lockdown nine public housing commission towers in the suburbs of Flemington, Kensington and North Melbourne.
Mr Andrews announced on Sunday that all residents of these towers would receive a rent reprieve for the next fortnight.
Anyone who lives in the towers and is unable to go to work because of the lockdown will receive a $1,500 payment, while unemployed households will receive $750.
Mr Andrews had warned Victorians that if things did not improve he would return the state to lockdown, but residents were granted a reprieve with the drop in cases.
Victoria has recorded 74 new cases of COVID-19, a significant drop from a day prior when the second highest numbers of the pandemic were recorded
Towers in the suburbs of Flemington (pictured), Kensington and North Melbourne were put in a ‘hard lockdown’ on Saturday and will be closed for five days. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced that people living in housing towers will not have to pay rent for the next fortnight
Premier Andrews praised the more than 21,500 people who were tested on Saturday.
‘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.’
There are currently 543 active cases of coronavirus in Victoria.
Mr Andrews said that of the 74 new cases only one was a returned overseas traveller, four were picked up with routine testing and 53 are being investigated by the state’s health officials.
New South Wales recorded 14 new cases, all of which were in returned travellers.
Public housing blocks in the suburbs of Flemington (pictured), Kensington and North Melbourne, where COVID-19 outbreaks have been recorded, were shut down on Saturday
A police officer speaks to a driver entering the housing commission flats in the suburb of Flemington
A team of hundreds of doorknockers and public health officials have been hitting the streets of Melbourne’s hotspot suburbs to spread information and assess people for potential symptoms
There were distressing scenes outside one tower on Sunday morning as a women in one of the public housing towers was apprehended.
The distraught woman had to be pulled from her car by police after trying to flee the high-rise on Racecourse Road at Flemington, in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.
Shocking photos show the woman driving her vehicle out of the carpark 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.
Several other police officers rushed to help and the visibly shaken woman was taken away and questioned.
Premier Andrews locked the doors to nine housing towers at 4pm on Saturday amid fears the virus is spreading rapidly within their walls.
The ‘hard lockdown’ will see 3,000 people in towers across Flemington, Kensington and North Melbourne forced to stay inside – with armed police on every single floor of every block ensuring they do not leave for any reason over the next five days.
The health concerns driving the stricter lockdown are attributed to crowded living and shared spaces, such as lifts.
Flemington (pictured), Kensington and North Melbourne were among the suburbs of the 2031 and 2051 postcodes of Melbourne to be placed into lockdown on Saturday
Dozens of Melburnians line up to be tested for COVID-19 in Brunswick West on Saturday, one of the suburbs that were locked down
A distraught woman has been pulled from her car by police after trying to flee a Melbourne public housing tower on Sunday
‘There will be no one going in other than residents who are returning home and no one will be allowed out of those public housing towers,’ Mr Andrews said.
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 8,066
New South Wales: 3,225
Western Australia: 611
South Australia: 443
Australian Capital Territory: 108
Northern Territory: 30
TOTAL CASES: 8,174
CURRENT ACTIVE CASES: 576
‘There will be a massive logistical task to make sure those people are fed, given the support that they need.
‘I think we’re equal to that task and I don’t for a moment underestimate how challenging, how traumatic in some respects that will be for those 3,000 residents.’
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.
They can only leave home to get food and medical supplies, or to attend school or work.
Melbourne City Councilor Rohan Leppert described the situation as ‘terrifying’.
In a series of tweets by the Greens party member on Saturday evening, Mr Leppert said he believes police patrolling the inside of the building should not be armed.
‘Please tell me these cops posted to every floor won’t be armed,’ he tweeted.
‘If there’s a cop on every floor I hope there’s a social worker, counselor, DV (domestic violence) worker and translator on every floor too. This is legit terrifying.’