Melbourne, Australia on week-long Covid-19 lockdown

PHOTO: Melbourne Australia heads into a one week lockdown after a Covid-19 outbreak. (via CCNull)

Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city, has just gone into a sudden 7-day Covid-19 lockdown, after a recent outbreak. The city of 5 million people has new stay at home orders today for the next week, going into effect at midnight tonight and lasts until June 3. The lockdown will not just affect the city of Melbourne but the entire Victoria state.

During the lockdown, people are instructed to stay at home except for essential work, healthcare, getting food and necessary supplies, and getting Covid-19 vaccines.

The lockdown comes on the heels of a new Coronavirus cluster that has grown to 26 people over the week, with 12 new cases diagnosed yesterday. The new infections were found in several nightclubs, 2 Aussie football matches, and a medieval battle reenactment, and now 150 locations are suspected of being possible Covid-19 exposure sites after thorough contact tracing. The tracing identified over 10,000 people who may have come in contact with an infected person or with a person in proximity to an infected person.

Melbourne had recently reimposed Covid-19 restrictions for residents like mandatory masks in restaurants, hotels and indoor businesses, and limits on the size of gatherings allowed. The lockdown has been put in effect after evidence that the new cases are of a highly infectious strain moving much faster than previous outbreaks in Australia.

This new outbreak was traced to a local man returning from overseas, who tested negative after quarantine in South Australia, but then tested positive 6 days later. The Covid-19 infection appears to be the Indian variant, known for its rapid spread.

Australia has been fast to contain outbreaks with lockdowns but has been criticised for its slow vaccine rollout, with just 3.7 million jabs given so far in a country with 25 million inhabitants. Homes for the elderly where hundreds died in outbreaks last year still have not been vaccinated. Government opposition is calling for a complete overhaul of the mass vaccination systems.

While Victoria is the second smallest state by area, it is the most densely populated region of Australia, with 6.6 million residents now in lockdown, the majority of which live in the greater Melbourne area. It is second in population only to New South Wales, home to the most populous city in Australia, Sydney. With that many people, it is home to 90% of Australia’s total Covid-19 deaths.

Victoria hadn’t seen new Covid-19 infections for 3 months previous to this new outbreak that led to the lockdown. Australia had done relatively well during the pandemic due to strong lockdowns, strict Covid-19 safety regulations, and active contact tracing.

SOURCE: Reuters and Bangkok Post

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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