- The highly contagious variant, first detected in India, is causing headaches for local authorities as they try to contain its spread.
- The snap lockdown is part of several containment measures used since the outbreak of the virus in the country.
- Although Victoria’s daily cases have been in the single digits since the lockdown came into force, officials fear that even minimal contact could help spread the virus.
The Australian state of Victoria on Wednesday extended a snap coronavirus lockdown in its capital Melbourne for a second week, as it scrambles to rein in a highly contagious variant first detected in India, but easing some restrictions elsewhere. will reduce
The lockdown in Australia’s second most populous state was supposed to last until Thursday, after the first locally acquired cases were detected in three months, but infections soared and the number of close contacts reached several thousand.
“If we let this thing do its job, it will explode,” James Merlino, the state’s acting premier, told reporters in Melbourne.
This form of anxiety will become uncontrollable and people will die.
“No one … wants to repeat last winter,” he said, referring to one of the world’s strictest and longest lockdowns that the southeastern state imposed in 2020 to end a second wave of infections Imposed.
More than 800 people died in that outbreak, accounting for about 90% of Australia’s total deaths since the pandemic began.
Snap lockdowns, regional border restrictions and strict social distancing rules have helped Australia quell prior outbreaks and keep its COVID-19 figures relatively low, with just over 30 cases and 910 deaths. On.
Although Victoria’s daily cases have been in the single digits since the lockdown came into force, officials fear that even minimal contact could help spread the version involved in the latest outbreak.
Six new locally acquired cases were reported on Wednesday, up from nine a day earlier, taking the number of infections in the latest outbreak to 60.
Health officials have said that it may take just a day for the variant to pass from person to person, while it may take five or six days of contact required for transmission of the earlier variant.
For now, Melbourne’s five million residents face a second week of being allowed to leave home only for essential work, healthcare, grocery shopping, exercise or vaccinations.
But depending on any local transmission in the next 24 hours, this restriction is likely to be relaxed for people elsewhere in the state, while other measures such as mandatory masks will remain in place.
Officials have said that the latest outbreak has been traced to a traveler who returned from abroad. The man left hotel quarantine in the state of South Australia after testing negative, but later tested positive in Melbourne.
Casino operator Crown Resorts Ltd, Victoria’s largest single-site employer with 11,500 employees, said it would lay off employees at the start of the lockdown but pay them wages for roasted hours.
Following Wednesday’s extension, the Crown has said it will only make a “one-time discretionary” payment, however.
Since the early days of the pandemic, Australian employers have relied on federal subsidies to pay employees during the lockdown, but the government scrapped that scheme in March.
Victoria’s acting premier, Merlino, called on the federal government to reinstate subsidies in light of the lockdown. Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the government was open to new support measures but would speak to officials in Victoria before committing to specifics.
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