In Melbourne, Australia, 3,000 people living in municipal housing have been subject to the country’s most stringent coronavirus restrictions, says the Guardian.
Residents of nine blocks of flats are not allowed to leave their apartments at all for at least five days. The restriction is exceptional in Australia, as even during the most severe restrictions, people have been able to go shopping and go outdoors, among other things.
According to the newspaper, the homes are home to people who are particularly vulnerable and particularly supervised in the state of Victoria, such as new immigrants, indigenous peoples and people with mental health problems. According to the broadcaster ABC, many do not speak English and at least most of the residents are low-income people.
Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews announced building insulation measures on Saturday and the restrictions took effect at four in the afternoon. The Guardian describes that residents of the houses had not been informed of the restrictions prior to the announcement. Some only found out about them when the police arrived. According to the Prime Minister, the state would be arranging food and health care for the residents, among other things, but the details of the arrangement were not told.
The minister responsible for housing in the state assured that other services, such as welfare, would also be available to residents. However, according to the Guardian, social workers, for example, were not seen on the spot on Saturday. The houses had only masked, armed police officers. According to the broadcaster ABC, there are about 500 police officers on site at a time.
In Melbourne, a total of more than 300,000 people have been placed in isolation as coronavirus infections increase in the city. However, the difference with the aforementioned municipal housing is that others are allowed to leave their homes under certain conditions.
"I thought there was a criminal operation going on"
Authorities say hundreds of residents of the houses have been exposed to the virus. The apartment buildings are densely populated, which has caused concern in the past, writes ABC.
Residents of the houses told the Guardian that many residents were intimidated by the strong police presence.
Hana, who lives in houses, interviewed by the Guardian, thinks it is unfair that other buildings are not subject to the same strict restrictions.
- I thought there was a criminal operation going on like a stab or something like that, Hana describes the police presence at her house.
- I asked what happened. They said infections have broken out here. You can't leave your home.
Hana says she is worried about her grandmother, who is also isolated. Grandmother needs help regularly, but now family members are also stuck in their homes.
According to Australian media, residents have asked why the area has become an eye-opener when others are also exposed to the virus.
At the end of last month, the human rights organization Amnesty International published a report showing that ethnic and other minorities in Europe have been caught by the police during the corona crisis. According to it, minorities have faced more during the crisis, including forced quarantines, fines and violence.
The guards spent time with the quarantined
Dozens of new coronavirus infections have been reported in recent weeks in the state of Victoria, where Melbourne is located. More than a hundred new viral infections were reported on Saturday, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
The BBC writes that in the past, new infections have entered the country with returnees from abroad. Now, however, the virus has begun to spread locally.
In particular, the state has failed to organize hotel quarantines returning from abroad. Quarantine security in Victoria has been handled by private security firms. In New South Wales, for example, where the country’s largest city, Sydney, is located, hotel quarantines were monitored by police.
In particular, it has emerged in the media that some of the guards had ended up having sex with those in quarantine. The guards had otherwise spent time with the quarantined.
In addition, the guards had not been properly instructed in their duties and not everyone had adequate protective equipment. According to the BBC, an investigation has been launched in the state. More than 20,000 people have been in hotel quarantine in Victoria.
The quarantine scandal has also sparked criticism of the state leadership.
In the coronavirus crisis, Australia has survived fewer infections than many other countries. According to Johns Hopkins University, less than 8,400 infections have been confirmed in a country with a population of about 25 million, which is about a thousand more than in Finland, which has a much smaller population. About a hundred virus-related deaths have been reported in Australia, which is significantly less than in Finland, where there are 329 deaths.