Residents moved from Albert Park special accommodation after outbreak

There are now more than a dozen positive COVID-19 cases connected to a special accommodation facility in Melbourne's south-east where residents were reported to be breaching quarantine

The Age reported on Saturday that residents of Albert Park's Hambleton House had been seen in nearby streets and entering businesses despite an active outbreak, and had to be returned to the site by police.

There are now more than a dozen COVID-19 cases connected to Hambleton House in Alfred Park. Credit:Paul Jeffers

There was a strong police presence at the facility again on Sunday morning after reports that residents continued to move outside their accommodation without face masks.

Ten residents of the Albert Park facility, which caters specifically to those with mental health issues or behavioural problems, have been moved to Melbourne hospitals.

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said the rest of the facility’s residents would be shifted to Alfred Health, St John’s Hospital in Berwick and St Vincent’s Hospital on Monday.

"These are unique units hospitals have to support people with mental health issues and challenging behaviour," she said on Sunday afternoon at a press conference.

"Some residents are positive and some are negative, but we are concerned about the welfare of those individuals."

She said the residents would likely be in specialised care units for a number of weeks until it was safe for them to return.

Residents have been attending local shops, pharmacies and other public places since the outbreak began, according to the manager and local residents who did not want to be named.

Healthcare workers enter Hambleton House in Albert Park on Sunday morning, after an outbreak and reports of quarantine breaches by residents. Credit:Paul Jeffers

Premier Daniel Andrews said there was a “range of clients and residents there who have particularly complex needs”, but he would not comment on reports that police had been deployed in response to failures by security guards.

Mr Andrews spoke of the complexity of managing outbreaks within special accommodation and said that depending on the circumstances it was sometimes inappropriate to isolate some residents in their rooms.

“That will be appropriate for some people, and I'm very careful about how I might express this, because we are talking about vulnerable people with often very complex needs, that is why that is their home,” he said.

The Health Department has been assisting supported residential service providers with PPE and infection control planning as well as outbreak management as part of Operation Benessere, which included management of outbreaks at public housing towers.

Mr Andrews said moving residents to a mental health facility or non-clinical housing might be appropriate for ensuring COVID-19 doesn’t spread through services like Hambleton House, but “it's as varied as the needs of those clients which are very much varied”.

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With Paul Sakkal

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