Sydney, Australia, Jun 30 (efe-epa).- Australian authorities announced Tuesday that they will impose a four-week mandatory lockdown on residents of ten areas of Melbourne following an exponential increase in COVID-19 cases due to fresh outbreaks in the city.
The stay-at-home orders will come into effect at 11:59 pm on Wednesday and stay in place until July 29, Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews said in a press conference.
Andrews also announced a judicial inquiry into the state’s management of hotel quarantines after a number of cases between late May and early June were suspected to be linked to infection control protocol breaches.
Andrews explained that a “significant number” of cases in northern Melbourne have been attributed, through genomic sequencing, to breaches of infection control protocols by staff members in hotel quarantine.
The Victorian government will also ask the Australian prime minister to divert international flights to Melbourne over the next two weeks to reduce the number of people in mandatory hotel quarantine although domestic flights will continue to operate.
The state authorities, which imposed the country’s strictest restrictions at the beginning of the coronavirus epidemic, have conducted some 93,000 tests to detect the novel coronavirus among its inhabitants over the past five days, when it stepped up their testing plan, which includes health care workers going door-to-door to test the residents.
The authorities of Victoria, which have asked the central government and other states for reinforcement to tackle the crisis, have reported 71 new cases since Monday, a large part of them linked to the new outbreak, bringing the total number of infections since the start of the epidemic to 2,099.
Australia, which has managed to control the COVID-19 epidemic and has resumed a large part of its economic activities, has recorded more than 7,760 cases of the novel coronavirus since the beginning of the year, including 104 deaths, of which more than 7,000 have recovered.
Currently, with the exception of Melbourne, most new COVID-19 cases are attributed to the few returned overseas travelers as the country has kept its borders closed to travelers. EFE-EPA