The Australian state of Victoria was ordered into a five-day lockdown yesterday following a spike in Covid-19 infections, joining Sydney as the country’s two main population hubs battle an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant.
From midnight, the state of 6.6mn people was told to stay home except for grocery shopping, essential work, exercise, healthcare and getting vaccinated.
The lockdown in Australia’s second-largest city of Melbourne is its fifth since the pandemic began a year-and-a-half ago.
Combined with a stay-home order already in force in Sydney, the measure means nearly half Australia’s 25mn population is under lockdown.
“You only get one chance to go hard and go fast,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews told a televised news conference.
“If you wait, if you hesitate, if you doubt, then you will always be looking back wishing you had done more earlier. I am not prepared to avoid a five-day lockdown now only to find ourselves in a five-week or a five-month lockdown.”
Melbourne spent about third of 2020 under curfew as the epicentre of the country’s initial outbreak, suffering most of Australia’s 31,400 cases and 912 deaths to date.
But it had largely avoided new infections while an outbreak in a Sydney beachfront suburb — 900km north — quickly spread through that city and surrounding areas last month.
That changed this week when a team of Sydney furniture movers travelled to Melbourne while infectious and introduced the virus to an apartment building.
By yesterday, dozens of Melbourne venues were listed as virus-exposed including a shopping centre, public transport routes and the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground stadium during a football match attended by thousands of people.
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