The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) confirmed 32 infections had been found across at least five public housing towers at Carlton in the city’s inner north on Monday.
The department first revealed the new Carlton infections on Sunday.
Subsidised housing towers at 510 Lygon Street, Carlton. Victoria’s health department revealed a coronavirus outbreak there on Sunday – but there is evidence they knew two months ago
Nine News reported the DHHS had known about a coronavirus infection in one of the Carlton blocks for more than two months – long before the recent lockdowns began.
A family of five living in a subsidised housing tower at 510 Lygon Street Carlton was reportedly known to have a coronavirus-infected member as early as May 4.
It is unclear whether residents were told of the infection or whether additional measures were undertaken at the time.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted DHHS for comment.
Pictured: Victorian police outside housing commission towers at North Melbourne on Saturday. Eight of the nine towers have now come out of hard lockdowns to general stage three restrictions along with the rest of Melbourne
A Victorian government spokesperson issued a statement saying single cases in public housing properties were no different than in any other residence.
‘It is standard practice that unless they are linked to an outbreak, or there is a wider public health risk, there is no need to identify individual cases or confirm private patient details like addresses,’ the statement read.
The spokesperson said extra steps had been taken to protect residents including more testing and cleaning.
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton told reporters on Sunday that the Carlton towers were ‘not as high-risk’ even though he also clarified that all towers with a high concentration of people were at-risk settings.
Health workers take tests into a sealed off public housing tower in Melbourne on July 8. Residents were unable to leave during the hard lockdown which has now ended for most
Residents of the Carlton towers told ABC News they had been watching the lockdowns of nine subsidised housing blocks in Flemington and North Melbourne with alarm, with residents unable to enter or leave.
Eight of those nine ‘hot zone’ towers have had their lockdowns eased now that residents have been tested, and are back at the same stage three restrictions as the rest of Melbourne.
Residents of the tower at 33 Alfred Street are still trapped, however without a release date yet announced.
Carlton tower resident Cory Memery said residents had been worried about the availability of hand sanitiser and the cleaning of the building before any cases were announced.
‘I’m very worried that that (case) number is going to grow significantly,’ he said.
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 9,980
New South Wales: 3,492
Western Australia: 635
South Australia: 443
Australian Capital Territory: 113
Northern Territory: 30
TOTAL CASES: 9,980
CURRENT ACTIVE CASES: 1,661
Residents of the housing commission tower blocks are considered highly vulnerable as thousands of people are packed in a confined building with poor access to outside ventilation.
Australia’s Acting Chief Medical Officer, Paul Kelly, has described the high-density towers as ‘vertical cruise ships’.
‘Those towers have a large concentration of people in a small area. They are vertical cruise ships in a way and so we have to take particular notice and particular attention to make sure the spread is minimised and people are protected,’ he told reporters in Canberra earlier this month.
Stage Three restrictions are now in force across Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire after the sharp increase in cases.
Restaurants and cafes are only open for takeaway and delivery.
Beauty and personal service businesses are closed as are entertainment and cultural venues.
People are also banned from community sport.
The Australian Medical Association warned on Monday that Melbourne’s lockdown may extend longer than six weeks if the coronavirus is not brought under control.
Victoria’s coronavirus total increased by 168 on Monday despite having 177 new cases, as nine cases were revised downward.
Victoria’s total number of cases is now Australia’s highest at 3967, of which 1,612 cases are active, and 641 are believed to be from community transmission.
A resident with health workers outside a public housing tower in Melbourne on July 10