Victoria records 74 new coronavirus cases

Hundreds of police officers are implementing a lockdown of public housing towers in Melbourne.
Hundreds of police officers are implementing a lockdown of public housing towers in Melbourne.

Victoria has recorded 74 new coronavirus cases, including 16 connected to controlled outbreaks, after recording 108 new infections on Saturday.

Of the new cases on Sunday, one is a returned traveller in hotel quarantine, four were from routine testing, 53 are still under investigation and 16 have been linked to outbreaks.

The Saturday spike resulted in Premier Daniel Andrews announcing the lockdown of nine inner-Melbourne public housing blocks and more areas being added to the COVID-19 "hot zone".

The premier warned that COVID-19 cases would likely remain high as widespread testing is carried out, particularly in hot spot areas.

"Obviously 70 odd cases is better than 100, but we are going to see some big days, big numbers in the days ahead," he told reporters on Sunday.

The goal is to drive down case numbers and bring the virus under control, which is why getting tested is so important, he said.

"We need everybody to follow the rules use and common sense, and fundamentally understand no one will be spared the cost of a second wave," Mr Andrews said.

"It will affect everyone."

A total of 27 cases have now been detected in the North Melbourne and Flemington towers.

About 3000 people have been affected by the drastic shutdown of the nine buildings to quell a cluster of up to 30 cases in public housing towers.

Postcodes 3031 and 3051 have joined the 10 other community transmission "hot zones" under stay-at-home orders.

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

The premier announced additional resources for residents of the buildings, including a hardship payment and additional health services including more testers.

The 3000 will also have their rent waived for the next fortnight, Mr Andrews told reporters.

Those employed would receive a $1500 hardship payment, while those not in the workforce would receive $750.

The government said it would arrange the delivery of food and medical supplies to all homes.

The premier 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," he said.

Victorian Council of Social Service chief executive officer Emma King said while it was understandable the lockdown was happening to save lives, it could be a traumatic experience for tenants.

"Being told you cannot leave your house, or seeing police on your doorstep, can be quite confronting.

"Being cut off from outside support services and family networks will also be damaging for many people," Ms King said.

State opposition leader Michael O'Brien said the government had an obligation to look after the residents of the housing estates, but called for an independent body to monitor the situation.

"It's been the government's mistakes that have led to them being locked down," he said.

"I would call on the government to make sure there is somebody independent to scrutinise how it is dealing with people in public housing estates," he said.

Victoria currently has 543 active cases of coronavirus.

26 people are in hospital, including three patients in intensive care, while 1971 people have recovered from the virus.

Australian Associated Press