Australia’s Victoria state posts lowest rise in daily COVID-19 cases in a week

A woman walks past an empty cafe during the morning commute on the first day of a seven-day lockdown as the state of Victoria tries to stop the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Melbourne, Australia, 28 REUTERS / Sandra Sanders

Australia’s second most populous state, Victoria, reported the lowest rise in new COVID-19 cases in more than a week on Thursday, a day after the state capital Melbourne’s lockdown was extended for another week.

Melbourne has been in a tough lockdown for seven days, which is now set to last until June 10, spurred on by the recent outbreak of a virus variant first discovered in India, which the authorities say is highly contagious and could become uncontrollable. Continue reading

Although Victoria’s daily cases have been in the single digits for a week, officials fear that even minimal contact could contribute to the spread of the virus variant.

Lockdown rules in regions outside of Melbourne will be relaxed from Thursday night due to zero cases, although house gathering restrictions remain in place and masks must be worn indoors.

However, Melbourne’s five million residents are only allowed to leave their homes until the end of next week to do important work, health care, grocery shopping, exercise or to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“We are not doing this because we want to, we are not doing this because it is an option. We are doing this because we have to,” Victoria State Prime Minister James Merlino told reporters in Melbourne.

Victoria reported three new locally acquired cases from daily record testing of more than 57,500 overnight. Thursday’s cases bring the total number of infections in the outbreak to 63.

The state of New South Wales, which borders Victoria, is on high alert after an infected traveler from Melbourne visited some popular tourist attractions in the south of the state about two weeks ago and authorities rushed to pursue close contacts. Almost a dozen locations are listed as hotspots.

The most recent outbreak has been traced back to a returning overseas traveler who exited hotel quarantine in the state of South Australia after testing negative but subsequently testing positive in Melbourne.

In the other states and territories of Australia, the virus has been effectively eliminated.

Rapid lockdowns, regional border restrictions and strict social distancing rules have largely helped Australia keep its COVID-19 numbers relatively low at 30,130 cases and 910 deaths.

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