Coronavirus cases at Melbourne Multiplex Premier Tower could grow

An outbreak among construction workers at a Melbourne high-rise tower is expected to grow, with more than 600 employees ordered off site after a dozen became infected.

Twelve workers tested positive for coronavirus, with close to 20 casuals identified as close contacts, at the Multiplex Premier Apartments site on Spencer St on Friday.

The $315 million apartment and hotel project, dubbed the Beyonce tower, is a 79-storey mixed-use skyscraper under construction. Works are set to be completed by Christmas.

But the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union warned the number of infected workers could grow.

“You can’t expect to have 12 positive cases and 20 close contacts without more confirmed infections,” union representative Jan Meehan said.

“Multiplex had very tight records on what workers were working on what level and they were very quick to shut the site down.”

It’s the third construction site in Melbourne to close due to a worker contracting COVID-19.

The worksite outbreak comes after Premier Daniel Andrews dropped a strong hint on Saturday morning that Victoria could go into tighter lockdown in the coming days.

“We’ve got numbers that are too high. We have every reason to believe that these current settings will not get this job done — or that we need to do more. And when I have made those decisions … when I can take you through it, I will,” he told reporters.

Ms Meehan was “quite confident” tighter restrictions weren’t imminent, but warned stricter laws that caused construction sites to close would be “catastrophic” for the economy.

“We have been given no direction as of yet that stage four will be the case and we liaise with the Premier’s office very regularly,” she said.

“If construction stopped the level of unemployment and finances would be horrendous. Construction workers represent 45 per cent of the state’s taxes – that’s a phenomenal number.”

Victoria recorded 397 new infections overnight, a welcome drop after the state recorded its two worst ever daily case totals on Thursday and Friday.

But three more people tragically died, taking the state’s death toll to 116. The three deaths, all linked to aged care, included a man and woman in their 80s, and a woman in her 90s.

A total of 379 Victorians are in hospital, with 41 in intensive care.

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