Fresh confusion over virus 'detention'

 

Residents in nine public housing towers in Melbourne who were told they would have to stay home for at least five days have received "detention directions" with an end date of July 18. 

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrew announced 74 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday including new cases linked to the two separate public housing outbreaks. 

There are 13 cases linked to North Melbourne and 14 linked to Flemington, home to about 3000 people in total. 

"The nine towers involved (five in North Melbourne and four in Flemington) are now closed and residents are required to stay in their homes at all times," the Department of Health and Human Services states.

"This will be in place for at least five days to ensure we can test every single resident. The lifting of this restriction will be determined by our success in testing and tracking this virus."

According to the detention directions provided to residents on the weekend, the rules "apply beginning at 3.30pm on 4 July 2020 and ending at 3.30pm on 18 July 2020".

"Your detention will be reviewed at least once every 24 hours for the period that you are in detention, in order to determine whether your detention continues to be reasonably necessary to eliminate or reduce a serious risk to public health," the documents state. 

Australia has recorded a total 8260 cases of COVID-19, with 3230 in New South Wales, 2536 in Victoria, 1067 in Queensland, 443 in South Australia, 618 in Western Australia, 228 in Tasmania, 108 in the Australian Capital Territory and 30 in the Northern Territory.

Australia's coronavirus death toll stands at 104.

'Strong chance' NSW Premier will close Vic border

There is a "strong chance" New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian will look to shut the state's border with Victoria, according to Sky News Political Editor Andrew Clennell.

"Her ministers in cabinet tomorrow I'm told may well push for this, it all depends on the numbers," he said.

"Gladys Berejiklian probably doesn't want to look like a hypocrite given she had a go at Annastacia Palaszczuk for keeping her borders shut.

"But that was an entirely different scenario to 100 new cases a day in a state."

Victoria's virus crisis threatens national recovery

Victoria's ongoing battle with COVID-19 will stall Australia's economic recovery, according to Deloitte.

The Deloitte Access Economics Business Outlook report predicts economic growth will contract by 3 per cent in 2020, and that Victoria will be one of the hardest hit as it returns to lockdown.

Deloitte Access Economics partner Chris Richardson said Australia's economy had been hit by a COVID-19 "sledge­hammer" and was being "held together by lots of sticky-tape", The Australian reports.

"Victoria is likely to take the unwanted title of worst performing state through the COVID ­crisis. Population, once a key growth engine, has well and truly stalled," Mr Richardson said.

"And Victoria's case numbers were spiking as we went to press. The need for tighter restrictions has sent job losses soaring and consumers hanging on to their cash rather than spending it. Infrastructure is the bright spot in this dark near-term outlook until the economy can open back up."

Qantas to release discount fares: report

Qantas will reportedly release 350,000 discounted fares later this morning to boost the aviation sector after Australia's COVID-19 lockdown.

According to The Courier-Mail, discounts of up to 45 per cent will be available on 77 domestic routes, with flights between Brisbane and Sydney slashed to $115.

Qantas chief customer officer Stephanie Tully told the publication the airline hopes the cheaper tickets will help to revive the tourism industry.

'A lot of trauma to come': resident

One of thousands of people locked down in Melbourne's public housing towers until at least Thursday has warned of the toll it could take on the community.

Ahmed Dini, who lives in the North Melbourne estate, told Nine he would be "lying" if he was to say "people are not upset about this".

The detention directions came into effect on Saturday afternoon.

"I'm really concerned for parents, single mother parents in the community," Mr Dini said on Sunday.

"There's a lot of trauma that is going to come out of this in the next couple of days."

The Victorian Trades Hall Council has raised $286,666 for the locked down residents, reaching its "goal amount".

"Our parents have survived war, they've survived civil wars and stuff like that, we can survive five days," Mr Dini said.

"We will come out stronger as a community but we want the rest of the country to be with us."

Traveller says hotel has 'gotten worse'

A quarantined traveller inside a Melbourne hotel has spoken up about the incompetency of its security guards, fearing infections will spread to her and others even after the problems with the failing system were exposed this week.

Freelance journalist Megan Clement took to Twitter to expose safety measures had "gotten worse" in the Melbourne Airport Holiday Inn where she is staying, spotting guards and staff without gloves or masks on multiple occasions.

The Aussie traveller also claimed guards don't know how to dispose of their PPE gear properly, saying one even asking for her assistance in doing so.

Read more here.

Test results to determine next move

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday said every resident within the locked down public housing estates will be tested for COVID-19.

"The sooner that we have that testing process concluded, the sooner we'll be able to make decisions on the data, on the results of those tests, about the restrictions that are appropriate for those nine towers," he said.

Mr Andrews was asked what the state government would do if a significant number of people refused to be tested, as has happened in other Melbourne hot spots.

"There's no reason not to be tested if someone invites you to be tested," he said.

"The only outcome of not being tested will be that we have to assume that you are positive, that you have the virus, and you will need to remain in your unit for a longer period of time than would otherwise be the case.

"I want everyone on the estate to say yes when someone approaches them for a test because that's just the clearest and easiest way for us to get a complete picture of how much virus there is and then have these very challenging restrictions lifted as soon as they possibly can be."

Mr Andrews said it was "the most important challenge at the moment" in the state's fight against the coronavirus, noting a large number of "very vulnerable Victorians" live inside the towers.

"We can't have this virus spread, we have to do everything we can to contain the virus. That's why staying in your unit, staying in your flat is absolutely essential.

"If we have a large group of people who've already got pre-existing and underlying health challenges infected with this virus, then people will die, it's as simple as that.

"These towers are being treated, in a public health response sense, no different than an aged care facility and that is exactly the right way to go given the inherent vulnerability, not of every resident but of many, many residents."

Mr Andrews said it was "not going to be a pleasant experience" for the residents but stressed it was "not about punishment" but protection.

94 new cases recorded on Sunday

There were 94 new cases of COVID-19 recorded in Australia on Sunday.

Of these, 74 were in Victoria, 14 in New South Wales and the remaining six in Western Australia.

All of the cases in NSW and WA were returned overseas travellers in hotel quarantine.

"The six new cases, four women and two men aged between 40-64, were all passengers on a flight from Dubai which arrived in Perth on 1 July and returned positive test results following WA Health screening conducted on day two after their arrival," WA Health said on Sunday.

"All the new cases are returning Western Australians from the metropolitan area."

The health department is interviewing all passengers on the flight, who are also in hotel quarantine, "to ascertain if there were any close contacts to the newly diagnosed cases onboard".

According to the federal health department, there were 45,399 COVID-19 tests conducted in the 24 hours to 9pm on Sunday.

Of the more than 8200 coronavirus cases, 11.2 per cent are considered "locally acquired - contact not identified" and 1.7 per cent remain under investigation.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said 53 of the state's 74 new cases are under investigation.

Of the others reported, 16 are linked to outbreaks, four identified through routine testing and one new case detected in a returned traveller in hotel quarantine.

The state has locked down nine public housing towers in Melbourne for at least five days while stay at home orders apply in a number of postcodes.

Detention directions apply for two weeks

Residents in nine public housing towers in Melbourne who were told they would have to stay home for at least five days have received "detention directions" with an end date of July 18.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrew announced 74 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday including new cases linked to the two separate public housing outbreaks.

There are 13 cases linked to the North Melbourne public housing and 14 linked to Flemington, home to about 3000 people in total.

"The nine towers involved (five in North Melbourne and four in Flemington) are now closed and residents are required to stay in their homes at all times," the Department of Health and Human Services states.

"This will be in place for at least five days to ensure we can test every single resident. The lifting of this restriction will be determined by our success in testing and tracking this virus."

Medical staff outside the Flemington public housing flats on Sunday. Picture: Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images

According to the detention directions provided to residents on the weekend, the rules "apply beginning at 3.30pm on 4 July 2020 and ending at 3.30pm on 18 July 2020".

"Your detention will be reviewed at least once every 24 hours for the period that you are in detention, in order to determine whether your detention continues to be reasonably necessary to eliminate or reduce a serious risk to public health," the documents state.

A sign reading Flemington Penitentiary, another word for prison. Picture: Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images

Civil liberties council Liberty Victoria said the orders "clearly stipulate 14 days".

"If after five they decide to wind back then so be it, but at law, this thing is currently set to last 14 days," the organisation said on Twitter on Sunday night.

"Word from the ground is that authorities have told people that if they refuse to be tested, they'll be treated as ill and be locked down for at least a further 10 days." 

Originally published as Fresh confusion over virus 'detention'


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