The state of Victoria, Australia, introduced a seven-day lockdown starting Thursday night time to stem a coronavirus outbreak in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, the nation’s second-most populous metropolis, after Sydney.
After practically three months with out a new an infection, state well being officers have detected 26 circumstances in the Melbourne-area cluster. The outbreak is believed to have begun when a man turned contaminated whereas serving a 14-day lodge quarantine in town of Adelaide, then traveled to Melbourne, the place he examined constructive for the virus.
The authorities mentioned that greater than 10,000 major and secondary contacts had been recognized, as they rushed to hint contacts at dozens of web sites the place folks could have been uncovered. Officials mentioned that the virus circulating in the Melbourne area was the variant first detected in India.
“In the last day, we’ve seen more evidence that we’re dealing with a highly infectious strain of the virus, a variant of concern which is running faster than we have ever recorded,” James Merlino, the performing premier of Victoria, informed reporters on Thursday morning.
Australia has all however eradicated neighborhood transmission of the virus, however a number of smaller outbreaks this 12 months have led cities and states to impose short-term lockdowns. Mr. Merlino mentioned that this outbreak, one of many largest in current months, was partly the results of a sluggish vaccination campaign that has left a giant proportion of Australians uncovered to new strains of the virus. Less than 2 % of Australia’s 25 million folks have been absolutely inoculated.
“If more people were vaccinated we might be facing a very different set of circumstances,” he mentioned. “That is a fact.”
Others criticized the Australian authorities for failing to implement an efficient quarantine system and counting on accommodations to accommodate incoming vacationers.
In a report launched this week, the authorities mentioned that the person first recognized in Melbourne most probably contracted the virus after he and another infected guest opened their hotel room doors inside minutes of one another, permitting the virus to unfold by aerosol transmission between their rooms.
“This is the 17th outbreak from hotel quarantine in just the last six months,” Mark Butler, the opposition well being minister, informed the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Thursday. “We’re dealing with these outbreaks almost every week or two at the moment.”
Mr. Butler mentioned that Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, had did not heed the recommendation of specialists who known as for the federal government to arrange devoted quarantine amenities “to take the pressure off hotels that were built for tourism.”
Last 12 months, after an an infection in a quarantine lodge led to an outbreak in the state, Melbourne’s 5 million residents endured one of many longest lockdowns in the world, lasting 111 days.
Under the brand new lockdown, Victorians are restricted from leaving their houses besides to buy, work, train, take care of others or get vaccinated.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Mr. Morrison warned that the lockdown was a grave reminder of how quickly the virus may resurge.
“There are no certainties, there are no guarantees, in a global pandemic, and against a virus, an insidious virus such as this,” he mentioned.