Coronavirus cases in Melbourne’s nine locked down housing commission towers have doubled in the past 24 hours, say authorities.
Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton told reporters a total of 53 new cases have been detected in the towers overnight, an increase of 26 since yesterday.
“It’s essentially a doubling of the numbers from yesterday and really not unexpected and is exactly the reason why these towers are in a hard lockdown and why we’re doing extensive testing across all of them,” he said.
Housing Minister Richard Wynne said testing is being “significantly ramped up” in the towers, which have been subject to a five-day hard lockdown since Saturday. He said the aim is to test everybody in them.
Residents were given 30 minutes notice of the lockdown, which is being carried out by police, who are stopping people from leaving their buildings.
“We want to ensure that everybody living in those towers is tested going forward,” he said.
He responded to criticism that not enough has been to support the residents trapped in the towers.
“I know that there’s been some commentary about, perhaps, people who have not necessarily received the level of support that they would have liked, but I can just – I just want to assure all of our – all of our residents that we are doing absolutely everything that we can to both reach out and support people in this really difficult time at the moment,” he said.
“I live next door literally to the North Melbourne estate, I know how difficult it has been for my neighbours who are doing, you know – this is tough.
“This is very, very tough time, but I can assure all of the residents in those nine tower blocks that we are with them, we’ll stick with them and we will support them right through this incredibly difficult time.”
RELATED: Follow our live coronavirus coverage
Aside from the new tower cases, one case has been linked to the Truganina family outbreak and 14 new cases are linked to the Al-Taqwa school.
Premier Daniel Andrews said public housing lockdowns are “challenging” and “not pleasant”.
“Staying inside your flat, inside your unit is the safest and best thing to do,” he said.
“It is not pleasant. I know it’s challenging, it is very challenging, but it is far preferable to seeing vast numbers of people with underlying health conditions infected with this virus, spreading it between each other and the inevitable tragic outcomes that will come from that.”
Of the 127 new cases, 34 are related to known and contained breakouts, 40 are the product of routine testing and 53 are under investigation. There are 2660 cases across the state.
Originally published as Tower virus cases double in 24 hours