Every child holed up in Melbourne’s public housing units in lockdown will receive an activity box filled with toys and puzzles to keep them busy during their forced isolation.
Thousands of Melbourne public housing residents went into lockdown on Saturday as more areas have joined the COVID-19 ‘hot zone’ after Victoria’s daily increase in cases reached triple digits.
The state recorded 108 new infections on Saturday, the second-biggest daily rise since the pandemic began in January, followed by another 74 new cases on Sunday.
Premier Daniel Andrews has taken drastic measures to quell a cluster of up to 30 cases in public housing by shutting down nine buildings, which affects 3000 residents.
Police are guarding every entrance and floor of the North Melbourne and Flemington estates 24-7, where residents are not allowed to leave their homes for any reason, including food.
On Sunday, the Victoria government announced a special surprise for every child who lives in the affected buildings, unable to leave home during the second week of school holidays.
Every youngster holed up in the nine public housing complexes in Flemington and North Melbourne that have gone into lockdown will each receive one of these activity boxes
‘From this morning, we’ll start delivering one of these activity boxes to every child in the nine restricted public housing towers,’ Mr Andrews posted.
‘It’s full of books and puzzles. Crayons. Lego. Ideas for exercising at home. Herb and flower seeds – and a special egg carton to grow them in.’
‘No one wants to be in this situation – especially kids with lots of energy.
‘But we’ll do whatever we can to make it that little bit easier.’
The government previously announced delivery of food and medical supplies to affected homes would be arranged.
However, residents with urgent needs have told AAP no one has yet asked them what they need.
Many were unable to get to the shops to get food and other necessities such as baby formula after the lockdown was announced late Saturday afternoon.
Residents in those buildings are among the state’s most vulnerable with many having fled war or family violence and dealing with mental illness, disability and low income.
This public housing complex in North Melbourne is one of nine buildings where residents cannot home for any reason
The health concerns driving the stricter lockdown in the public housing estates are attributed to crowded living and shared spaces, such as lifts.
Residents in postcodes 3031 and 3051 have joined the 10 other community transmission ‘hot zones’ under stay-at-home orders.
They can only leave home to get food and medical supplies, or to attend school or work.
With 108 new COVID-19 cases announced on Saturday, the state notched its second biggest daily increase since the pandemic began.
There are 509 active cases with 25 people in hospital, including three in intensive care.
Of the new cases, 69 are under investigation, 14 are from known outbreaks and 25 from routine testing.
‘If we don’t all follow the rules, every postcode will be locked down,’ Mr Andrews said.
Police speak to one of the 3000 affected public housing residents on Saturday night