Australia's locked down Victoria state reports 2 new local COVID-19 cases

Rodiano Bonacci
Febbraio 14, 2021

Streets in downtown Melbourne, the state's capital, and its suburbs were nearly empty early Saturday, with people ordered to stay home for all but essential shopping, two hours of outdoor exercise, caregiving, or work that can not be done from home.

Australia's second most populous state Victoria entered a five-day lockdown on Saturday (Feb 13) as authorities raced to prevent a third wave of Covid-19 cases sparked by the highly infectious United Kingdom variant. All of those infections were linked to the highly contagious United Kingdom variant.

Defending men's champion and world number one Novak Djokovic, an eight-time victor at Melbourne Park, plays Taylor Fritz in the late match on Rod Laver Arena, the centre court.

"We must assume that there are further cases in the community than we have positive results for, and that it is moving at a velocity that has not been seen anywhere in our country over the course of these last 12 months", Andrews told reporters, noting the high transmission rate of the United Kingdom variant.

But although play will continue, with the competitors continuing to abide by the lockdown restrictions with players and their direct support teams allowed onsite only when essential, the absence of fans will surely be keenly felt, particularly after they contributed to such a vibrant start at the first Major of 2021.

"There are no fans".

Under the new measures, some five million people in Australia's second-biggest city will have to remain at home for five days from midnight, except for a limited number of permitted essential activities. "The minimum number of staff for it to be run safely - not just for the virus but other reasons - will be there". "For now, that's five days", he said.

Fans who had already bought tickets will get a refund and Friday's night session would still be open, despite Andrews encouraging all Victorians to stay at home.

On Friday night, the Victorian government announced a freeze on global passenger flights which would begin from today, excluding flights already in transit.

"This is not the 2020 virus, this is different, this is something very, very different", he said.

All states and territories, except New South Wales - which includes Sydney and is the nation's most populous state - closed their borders to Victoria on Friday citing the high risk of transmission.

Both cases have been in isolation since 12 February and tested and returned a positive sample in isolation the following day.

It was a devastating setback for residents and businesses who underwent a similar lockdown in and around Melbourne for more than 100 days late past year in a successful effort to contain an earlier outbreak that infected thousands and killed about 800.

The head of Australia's business lobby group expressed frustration at the fresh lockdown, calling it a "bitter disappointment for the whole community". "We must get hotel quarantine working properly".

More broadly, Australia is rated among the world's most successful countries in tackling the pandemic, largely because of decisive lockdowns and borders sealed to all but a trickle of travellers. The nation has recorded some 22,200 community cases and 909 deaths.

On Saturday, almost 1000 primary contacts related to the hotel cluster were placed into self-isolation for two weeks.

Premier Andrews proposed tightening Australia's citizen repatriation program to compassionate reasons only, a move that could get some support from other states that have had the United Kingdom strain.

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