After over 10,000 people were exposed to COVID, Melbourne was placed under a week-long lockdown.
After 10,000 people were found to have had contact with 26 new documented COVID-19 variant infections, Melbourne and the surrounding Victoria state will enter a seven-day lockdown on Thursday at midnight.
According to the Associated Press, the Australian federal government designated Melbourne as a hotspot, giving the city access to additional federal aid and resources. 218 military personnel will be stationed in Victoria, and extra vaccine doses will be sent to the state, according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Victoria Acting Premier James Merlino said, “Unless something changes, this will become increasingly uncontrollable.”
Residents of Melbourne and Victoria will be able to leave their homes only to buy food and essentials, receive vaccines, access or administer care, work or study if it requires them to leave the house and exercise. All schools will be closed, restaurants will only be open for takeout, and all professional sports will be played without spectators.
Only 3.9 million COVID vaccine doses have been administered to Australia’s 26 million people. The shutdown, according to Health Minister Greg Hunt, is “highly regrettable” but “essential” in managing the Melbourne outbreaks.
See the list below for more Associated Press reporting.
The variant was identified in India and designated as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization, according to Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly. It was more contagious than some other variants.
Travel from Victoria is being restricted in Western Australia and South Australia, and quarantine-free travel to Melbourne has been suspended in New Zealand.
A traveler from India became infected while in quarantine in a hotel in South Australia state earlier this month, prompting the discovery of the new Melbourne cluster. When the traveler returned home from Adelaide to Melbourne, he was diagnosed.
The city of 5 million people became Australia’s worst hot spot last year. Infections peaked at 725 new cases in a single day in August at a time when community spread had been virtually eliminated elsewhere in the country.
That lockdown lasted for 111 days. A third lockdown that lasted for five days in February was triggered by a cluster of 13 cases linked to hotel quarantine near Melbourne Airport.
Victoria accounts for 820 of Australia’s 910 coronavirus deaths.