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Confusion over Melbourne housing blocks lockdown

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Residents in nine of Melbourne’s public housing buildings have been left confused after they were handed a document stating lockdown is for 14 days – not five.

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A four-page letter providing directions of Deputy Chief Health Officer Annaliese van Diemen was handed to residents on Sunday.

Thana Sirag, who lives with her parents in one of the Flemington buildings, said police knocked on her door on Sunday night stating the lockdown was for 14 days.

“We haven’t received any care packages at all,” she told AAP.

“We do have milk and bread, but if we are going to be in lockdown for 14 days, which is what we have been told, it is not going to last that long.”

Police are guarding every entrance of the housing estates and residents are not allowed to leave their homes for any reason.

The hard lockdown was imposed by the government on Saturday in a bid to contain a break out of coronavirus after 27 people in the North Melbourne and Flemington towers tested positive to COVID-19.

The government says it will deliver food and medical supplies to residents, give a $1500 hardship payment to those who can’t go to work and pay $750 each to those not in the workforce.

The government wants every resident tested for coronavirus, and those who do so will have their payments fast-tracked.

Father of five children under five, Abdirahman Ibrahim, told AAP he was surprised to have been told lock down was 14 days, not five.

He lives in housing in Flemington and is still waiting on groceries.

Another resident Amr Osman tweeted a video of the box of food staples he’d been given, which included cereal and jam but no bread or milk.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the hard lockdown was about the safety of residents as well as the entire state.

“This is not about punishment, this is about protection for you and your loved ones,” he said.

“And then, by extension, it’s about protecting the entire state and we don’t make those decisions lightly.”

Andrews stated on Saturday it was a minimum of five days in lockdown.

“I just want to explain the order is made for 14 days, that is a function of the act. That can be rescinded at any point,” he said.

“The nine towers that are being locked down will be locked down for at least five days because that is deemed the appropriate period to test everybody, every single resident other than those who have already tested positive, across those towers and to have those tests processed by the labs.

“That data will then guide as to what the next steps should be. But at this stage it is at least that five day hard lockdown effective from right now.”

Sirag said she just wants to be treated like everyone else.

“If we were to be treated like everybody else, we would be understanding,” she said.

“We are put under much more severe circumstances than everyone else, we are being treated like prisoners.”

-AAP

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