Monday, 14 June, 2021

Australian PM pledges lockdown support for second-most populous state

Victoria to enter snap seven-day lockdown Victorian COVID-19 lockdown set for a week
Sandy Nunez | 27 May, 2021, 20:11

Victoria will be entering another circuit-breaker lockdown from 11.59pm tonight, Thursday May 27.

Announcing the restrictions on Thursday, when 12 new local cases were reported, Acting Victorian Premier James Merlino said the lockdown may have been avoided if the national vaccine program was effectively rolled out and specialized quarantine facilities were established for returned global travellers.

"Unless something drastic happens, this will become increasingly uncontrollable".

Contact tracers have locked down more than 10,000 primary and secondary contacts of infected people.

The fresh cluster of infections in Melbourne detected early this week swelled to 26 on Thursday after 12 new cases overnight, while the number of virus-exposed sites rose above 150.

Victoria's chief health officer Brett Sutton said it was "not one to be complacent about" because it was at least as infectious as other mutant strains.

The vaccine rollout has been slower than the Federal Government promised, but the nation has only recorded 30,000 cases and 910 deaths since the start of the pandemic and often goes months without any new local cases.

The lockdown will be in place until June 3.

Public gatherings are banned under the lockdown and restaurants, pubs and cafes can provide takeaway only.

The additions bring the number of people in Victoria's latest cluster to 26.

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All non-essential retail will close but essential stores including supermarkets, bottle shops, and pharmacies will remain open. Those in Greater Melbourne must wear a face mask indoors.

A spokesperson from the New Zealand Ministry of Health said this afternoon it was "crucial" everyone who has been in Victoria since May 11 was checking Victoria Health's website for locations of interest.

"Sadly, we have one of those people in an ICU, on a ventilator, in not a very good way". Groceries are only allowed by one member of the household once a day and all essential stores are closed.

In recent months, Australians had largely been enjoying few restrictions after the country successfully contained the spread of coronavirus, but critics say a glacial vaccine rollout has left the nation vulnerable to outbreaks from hotel quarantine facilities.

Additional vaccine doses were also being sent to Victoria.

He also announced from tomorrow, dependent on supply from the federal government, all Victorians over 40 will be eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine.

"If you are eligible to get vaccinated, make yourself a plan to do that today, to get it done", the state's health minister said.

"If we had an alternative to hotels for this particular variant of concern, we would not be here today".

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke to reporters this afternoon saying Victorians again faced a "challenge and a battle".

"There are no certainties, no guarantees, in a global pandemic".