Tuesday, 02 March, 2021

Victoria records one new locally-acquired coronavirus case amid lockdown

Players in'bubble as Australian Open continues without fans No Crowd For Five Days at the Australian Open as Melbourne Heads into Snap Lockdown
Ginger Lawrence | 15 February, 2021, 01:07

"There was a fair bit of sentiment about it being snapped on to people and they felt that perhaps they could have considered leaving regional Victoria in the way that other lockdowns such as Perth and Sydney have, where it was more locality-based", Mr Millington said.

Victorians are in lockdown for the third time amid fears the highly infectious United Kingdom strain of coronavirus has spread in the community.

Over the weekend, Health Minister Martin Foley would not be drawn when asked if Victorians could be confident the current "circuit breaker" lockdown would not be extended beyond Wednesday.

"It is the advice to me that we must assume that there are further cases in the community than we have positive results for", he told reporters yesterday.

Among the "essential" work, play at the Australian Open, the year's first Grand Slam tennis event which runs to February 21, continued, but fans were banned through Wednesday. There are no crowds.

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 tournament will proceed without crowds over the next five days with no fans allowed at the match sites, organisers said.

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

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The vaccine is able to be stored at a higher temperature - 2C-8C - for up to five days and still be effective. Last month, Sweden froze payments to Pfizer to figure out whether it was being overcharged for the vaccines.

He said Victoria's worse situation comparatively could be attributed to bad luck, but potentially also to differences in the quarantine program management.

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.

"We will continue to monitor it on a day-by-day basis, really it is up to the shared effort of all Victorians".

Melbourne endured a strict 112-day lockdown a year ago when it brought cases down from over 700 a day to zero, and authorities are sensitive to even small outbreaks.

Mildura Regional Development chief executive Brett Millington said local business owners were angered that regional Victoria was again grouped with metropolitan Melbourne under the harsh restrictions. "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.

The latest outbreak, stemming from an airport hotel housing worldwide travellers in mandatory quarantine, has so far infected 13 people, including staff and their families.

"These restrictions are all about making sure that we respond appropriately to the fastest-moving, most infectious strain of coronavirus that we have seen", said state Premier Daniel Andrews.